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Edited for Publication: Photographic Manipulations in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner

Until August 31, 2012
Central Library, History & Genealogy Department LL4

In 1962 William Randolph Hearst merged the Los Angeles Examiner with the Los Angeles Evening Herald to form the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. The reputation of Hearst’s publishing empire was established long before this date, as early as 1887 when Hearst acquired the San Francisco Examiner. His entrance into Los Angeles newspaper publishing began in 1903 when he founded the Los Angeles Examiner and later acquired the Los Angeles Evening Herald in 1922. As one of the main instigators of yellow journalism in the 1890s Hearst was a publishing magnate deeply invested in the world of entertainment. His papers were filled with stories of vice and scandal often sensationalizing the news for the benefit of circulation numbers. Photography played an essential role in this endeavor and his papers rivaled Hollywood as a form of entertainment by blurring the distinction between the daily news and "the pictures."

Today a press photograph informs and persuades its public by maintaining the image is both truthful and objective. The prints in this exhibit were reproduced from photographs that were painted over, written on, filled with arrows and crop marks and in some cases even staged. Originally published between 1920-1960, most of these images were never shown in such a bare and revealing state.

Long before the advent of digital photography and Photoshop, photo editing was an imprecise production, and a few hand-painted manipulations were enough to turn a lackluster photograph into a sensational image in the context of the newspaper. These alterations are wide ranging and creative use of chiaroscuro, composition and perspective is evidenced in the quiet details of the photograph: in the folds of clothing, the smoke filled sky or the simple outline of a face in profile. These pictures and their accompanying captions tell a story but also ask us to consider how and why these images were made.

Curated by Olivian Cha, Librarian, History & Genealogy

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