More on FAQ #227

227. How can the most “accurate”-looking depiction of a scene not qualify as TCQ?

Because if a photograph undergoes any changes that disqualify it from the Trust Checklist, it cannot qualify as TCQ no matter how much it looks like the scene it depicts.

By the same token, the depiction of a scene that qualifies as TCQ may not be the most “accurate”-looking depiction of that scene.

How can this be?

It is because the changes required to help a digital photograph “look more like the scene that was photographed” often involve actions that make viewers less likely to trust the resulting image.

This can be a difficult concept for some people to grasp especially if they grew up in the film era, when photographs usually couldn’t be doctored to look more like the scene depicted without viewers of the original being able to instantly detect the manipulations.

But it really is quite simple:

A. People’s level of “trust” in a photograph depends on how confident they are that they can “read” the photograph.

B. People’s confidence in how much they can “read” a photograph is tied to how convinced they are that the photo is not “doctored.”

C. Therefore people are usually less likely to trust a photo if they know or suspect that it is “doctored” — even if those changes were performed to make the photo “look more like the scene that was photographed.”

In the 21st century, outside of news settings there is no longer any reliable connection in a photograph between “how much it looks like the scene it depicts” and “how trustworthy it is.”

In the digital age, “accurate-looking” is not synonymous with “trustworthiness” — and thus not with TCQ.
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P.S. A side note with regard to question #227: few advanced photographers would say that there can ever be a “most accurate” depiction of a scene, particularly with regard to non-“light”-related aspects.