A-1. FoundView Basics: What, Why, How, Who, When
FoundView is a label that helps viewers discern whether realistic-looking photographs are real or synthesized. FoundView relates only to the presentation of realistic-looking photographs. It never puts limits on anyone's right to artistic expression, nor does it apply to photographs that are obviously composites or fabrications. The FoundView standard is simple, easily understood, easily reproduced, signaled by a logo immediately identifiable at any reproduction size, useable by anyone, voluntarily adhered to, free of charge, applied only to one's own images, applicable to most types of photography, viewer driven, comprehensive but not overreaching, sensitive to the many gray areas in photography, backwards compatible (that is, applicable to past photography), and flexible enough to allow ample room for artistic interpretation.
The term "FoundView" refers to the code of ethics that comprises the standard (published in its entirety on this web site). It also refers to photographs that meet the standard and to the nonprofit consortium of people who support these principles and maintain this web site.
It's about audience expectations and the medium's credibility. Consider the book buyer, who values a remarkable and well-told story but invariably wants to be told whether it is fiction or nonfiction. So, too, viewers who see a realistic-looking photograph want to know if it's real or synthesizedespecially if it's striking or unusual. Their first question of such a photograph is often something along the lines of "Where was this picture taken?" or "Where would I go to see this?" If viewers learn that a photograph passed off as real is actually synthesized, they may begin to doubt the trustworthiness of other realistic-looking photographs. When the scenario is repeated and multiplied by millions of viewers, the resulting disillusionment jeopardizes the credibility of the entire medium. That's why FoundView isn't just applied to "news" or "journalistic" photographs. The viewer doesn't care whether the subject is landscape, wildlife, nature, a street scene, or a portrait: if a photograph looks like its content was not manipulated, viewers want to know whether they should believe their eyes.
For viewers of photographs, the benefit of the FV checkmark is the photographer's or publisher's reassurance that the photograph depicts all of the forms and shapes that were recorded by the camera the moment the shutter was clicked. For photographers, the benefit of the FV checkmark is that it affirms and preserves the value of single-click photographs. The FV checkmark lets photographers who value photography's unmatched potential for veracity declare that their photographs are not deceptive in any way. For publishers, the FV checkmark enhances or reinforces the publication's credibility, reassuring readers that any photographs so marked can be trusted not to misrepresent the subjects they appear to portray.
FoundView divides all post-shutter manipulations of photographs into two categories, manipulation of light ("tones"), and manipulation of elements in the photograph ("forms and shapes"). Photographs that have undergone the former (manipulation of tones) usually qualify as FoundView (and, if so, can be labeled with the FoundView checkmark). Images that have undergone the latter (manipulation of forms and shapes) never qualify as FoundView. The difference can be thought of as changing tone vs. changing content. Consider the expectations of sports fans: often fans monitor various media because they value different sportswriters' interpretations of a given game or athlete (variations in tone)but they would not tolerate for a moment a sportswriter who falsified final scores or outcomes of games (i.e., changed the content of his subject). Viewers of realistic-looking photographs have similar expectations.
The FoundView standard and checkmark may be used, free of charge, by anyoneprofessionals, amateurs, and publisherswilling to guarantee that the photographs they are presenting meet FoundView standards. As an organization, FoundView is a loose consortium (no dues, no newsletter, no membership list, no meetings) of like-minded photographers spreading the FoundView philosophy at the grassroots level. No money is spent on marketing or publicity. No one profits financially from FoundView, as there is no source of income. All time, expertise, and money to sustain the organization and this web site are donated by private individuals.
FoundView was a response to the changes in photography brought about by new digital imaging technologies developed in the 1990s. The idea for a consortium and standard to address issues of undisclosed image manipulation grew out of a series of long-running discussions between 1994 and 1996. These discussions culminated in the first published writeup of FoundView principles (which later evolved into the text on this web site) in early 1997. The first book of photographs to use the FoundView checkmark was published in May 1997; the web site www.FoundView.org was launched in May 1998.
A-2. Five key tenets of FoundView
1. If it looks like a photograph that depicts the things recorded by the camera when the shutter was clicked, the viewer wants to know whether it is or isn't precisely that.
2. Viewers who repeatedly discover that photographs passed off as unmanipulated are instead synthesized or composite images eventually don't trust any realistic-looking photographs.
3. Photographers who try to pass off composites or other content-manipulated images as unmanipulated photographs hurt the trustworthiness of other photographers' photographs.
4. Photographers and artists are free to combine and synthesize photographs as much as they please, but the results should not be presented as photographs in which content was not manipulated.
5. Photographers who aren't trying to deceive their viewers have no reason to hide manipulations of content.