Aperture has reasently rereleased one of Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency In the afterwords Nan expresses concern about the truth in Photography and peoples believe in photography in the age of Photoshop as reported by LARB.
I for one, being a photographer, have never had any believe in photography as a tool of the truth, the holy truth and nothing but the truth.
Just like some of the religious books can bring beautiful stories there is no absolute truth to be taken from them in my mind. The same is with photography. Photography has through the years gained a status as a truthful documentary tool to the point where it is even used as evidence in court. Swearing on photography in court is much like swearing on the bible. To many the Bible (or any other religious cultures book) has the highest importance and status and people truly believe in what there is written. Same goes for photography. Neither in my opinion tells the whole story, shows the truth, the holy truth and nothing but the truth.
Just like words can be rewritten and rearranged to play with a meaning of a sentence once told and that sentence taken from its original context given a new meaning, so can a photograph be arranged and taken from its original context to give us a thought of what was not the truth.
Just like words can be a part of a fiction novel photography can be a part of artistic and fictive storytelling. This has so been since man started writing and since photography first emerged.
This on the other hand does not exclude the fact that a person can with same technique as is used to create poetry and novels, create a truthful narration of a happening. Same goes for photography. Despite the fact that you can use photoshop to change images and create illustrations and art it does not have to mean that every image is a fiction. An image can be created to the creators best intentions as truthfully to the story as is possible. It still does not make it the truth and nothing but the un manipulated truth.
Images can be truthful per se. But even so they can never be THE TRUTH. Images, just like words in a narration, are carefully chosen reproductions of a given moment. To reproduce that moment the photographer has manipulated a split second into something that can be both artistically pleasant and narrative. Just like a writer carefully chooses the best words to serve his purpose, so does photographer when he decides on what moments to pick. What camera to use. What lens fits the motive. What angel he/she takes the picture from. All this is just the process that occurs before the split second is grabbed and made immortal or forgotten. After the moment there is a lengthy process which includes lot of manipulation to make the image as strong as possible. Just like in a writers process.
We are not at the end of the era of truth in photography. But it maybe is about time people came to the terms that photography is not The truth even though they can be truthful. The trouble with that on the other hand is what shall we then believe in and how can we show the truth so people believe us and most importantly what will it do to a gigantic business of storytelling and media not to speak of what will it do to corrupt power blocks trying to sell us the truth depicted in a narrative photograph
Its not the truth in photography that has come to an end, but the truth as you choose to know it.