Kent State, 1970
This photo, taken by photojournalism student John Filo, is an iconic moment that was captured during a protest against the Vietnam War. In it, fourteen-year-old Mary Ann Vecchio kneels over the body of Jeffrey Miller, a student at the university who was killed by National Guardsmen during a protest against the war.
In the original she appears to have a post coming out of her head. When it was published in Life, the editors elected to remove it.
Civil War Generals, c. 1865
Regarded as the world’s first commercially successful photojournalist, Mathew Brady had a few tricks up his sleeve. In this group portrait of William Tecumseh Sherman and his top officers, he slipped in an extra figure.
From left to right are Oliver Otis Howard, William Babcock Hazen, Jefferson Columbus Davis and Joseph Anthony Mower; seated, from left: John Alexander Logan, Sherman, Henry Warner Slocum and Francis P. Blair. Blair was an addition, and was added as he was a key in the March to the Sea, helping to finish off the Confederates.
Lenin Addresses the Troops, 1920
A widely distributed photo during the Russian revolution, photographer G.P. Goldshtein, captured Lennin speaking to a group of soldiers as they prepared to depart for the Polish front, where they would fight the troops of Josef Pilsudski.
As you can see from this photo taken just moments later, a few people were removed. Those were fellow Central Committee members Leon Trotsky, who stands in hat and mustache on the stairs to the right of the podium, and Lev Kamenev, both rivals to Lennin’s power. Both men were greatly purged from historical record despite their contributions to the revolution.
Hitler Meets with Leni Riefenstahl, 1937
When Hitler met with the Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl in 1937, her brother Heinz, and at far right, his wife Ilsit were present. You can also see a ghostly figured next to Ilsit.
That ghost was Joseph Goebbels, the Third Reich’s top propagandist and one of the architects of the Holocaust. It is unknown why he was removed from the photo, although shortly after the photo was taken Goebbels’ standing with the Führer suffered a critical blow as Hitler became aware of his lieutenant’s affair with an actress.
The Beatles’ Abbey Road Poster
This ultra-famous album cover features a significant alteration of the original.
American publishers elected to remove the cigarette from Paul’s right hand without getting permission from him or Apple Records, which owns the right to the image.
TV Guide‘s Oprah Winfrey Cover, 1989
In Oprah Winfrey’s TV Guide‘s cover in 1989, there is the obvious addition of a pile of money. However, that’s child’s play compared to the other manipulation within this image.
Oprah’s head has been spliced onto the body of glam actress Ann-Margaret. The manipulation was immediately detected by Ann-Margaret’s fashion designer Bob Mackie, who created the gown.
Newsweek‘s Martha Stewart Cover, 2005
This image of Martha Stewart supposedly shortly after her release from prison was featured in Newsweek and credited to Michael Elins.
The face shot of Martha had actually been taken 9 months earlier by veteran paparazzo Ron Galella and then spliced on to a model’s body.
Iranian Missile Test, 2008
Many major newspapers ran this image of an Iranian Missile Test in 2008. It supposedly shows the test firing of a Shahab-3 missile, which was said to be capable of traveling 2,000 km, thereby putting Iran within striking range of Israel.
In reality, one of the the missiles had failed to fire. Post production they added the 4th launched missile and removed the failed one from the ground.
Kim Jong Il and North Korean Troops, c. 2009
This image of Kim Jong Il was taken shortly after rumors that he had suffered a stroke. It purports to show him in the company of an honored regiment.It purports to show him in the company of an honored regiment.It purports to show him in the company of an honored regiment.
It had been assumed for some time that images released by North Korea were routinely manipulated and this photo helped to confirm that after it was closely scanned for inconsistencies. When zooming in, it can be seen that the quality of the wood or metal behind Kim Jong Il seems to differ from the surrounding material, suggesting that Kim was inserted into the photo after the fact.
Benjamin Netanyahu and His Cabinet, 2009
The Israeli newspaper Yated Neeman published this version of a group photo of Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s newly elected Prime Minister, front left, with President Shimon Peres, front right, and members of Netanyahu’s new government. All men.
Except they weren’t. An unaltered version of the photo reveals that the newspaper has replaced the two female Cabinet members, Limor Livnat and Sofa Landver, with men’s faces. Much of the newspaper’s readership consists of ultra-Orthodox readers who do not think it proper for women to serve in the government.