More on FAQ #318

318. Why have so many photographers in the digital age chosen “appearance” over “trustworthiness”?

It hasn’t been a conscious “choice” for most photographers.

Well into the digital age photographers merely kept doing what photographers had been doing since the 1840s: doing all they could to improve the appearance of their photographs without making the photographs look less believable.

“Being able to significantly alter photographs without detection” had been photographers’ dream for one and a half centuries — so when in the 1990s digital technology finally made that dream come true, it was only natural to take advantage of it.

(See also #3 on this page, “The golden age of photo manipulation”)

Furthermore, until TCQ came along, except in news settings there wasn’t much incentive for photographers to choose “trustworthiness” over “appearance.”

That’s because viewers can instantly judge “appearance” just by looking at a photograph — but no matter how long and how carefully a viewer studies a photograph, they cannot reliably judge its trustworthiness.*

That simple difference explains why smartphone manufacturers spend billions of dollars a year on ways to improve the “appearance” of photos without viewers detecting the improvements —

— and it explains why the “Guaranteed TCQ” label was created to let viewers instantly know when a photographer elected to optimize “trustworthiness” instead of “appearance.”

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*Not one of the 9 characteristics of trusted photographs can be reliably assessed “just by looking.”