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Undeceiving the World

Can a staged photograph tell the truth?

Staging — the practice of deliberately arranging a scene — has coexisted with documentary photography from the beginning. When Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre published a seminal tract on a method for fixing images onto a shiny piece of silver-coated copper, in 1839, he also described the relatively recent art of the diorama. Photography and staging, you might say, were launched into the world as twins.

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