People are Accusing the Viral Photo of a Mother and Children Fleeing at the US Border of Being Staged

People are Accusing the Viral Photo of a Mother and Children Fleeing at the US Border of Being Staged

An image taken by a photographer whom was documenting the scenes as tear gas was launched by the U.S. Border Patrol, is dividing opinion. The photo has been widely circulated this week, but some are claiming they have proof it was staged.

The photo was taken Sunday, near a border wall between California and Mexico, and has increased tensions in the debate surrounding the Trump administration’s handling of migrants seeking asylum.

Reuters photographer Kim Kyung-Hoon snapped the picture. A documentary photographer by trade, he joined the migrant caravan two weeks ago as they have travelled north. Kyung-Hoon insists the tear gas was thrown at the migrants without any warning – which is contrary to the version of the story presented by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.

But now people have begun dissecting the photo, making bold claims that the image is fake — or at least "staged." One Twitter user claims the presence of many photographers, several with tripods, suggests numerous people were arranging posed photos. Another claimed there was a CNN reporter setting up a fake shot in the background, and that the actors were laughing — although there’s nothing to clearly suggest CNN had any involvement.

Is this concrete evidence the photo was staged, or empty accusations from internet trolls who know nothing about how documentary photography works?

Lead image credit: Radek Homola on Unsplash

Jack Alexander's picture

A 28-year-old self-taught photographer, Jack Alexander specialises in intimate portraits with musicians, actors, and models.

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So what? Your point is?


Trump and his supporters twist everything. (Fixed it for reality)

We gassed some women and children, not all or even a majority of women and children. I feel better now.

When? What are you talking about? That tiny amount of tear gas, 20 or 30 feet away from the woman and children?


That's not the point, dude. The point is, "was the photo staged." Try to focus.


It's a photography forum, and the first thing you do is parrot right wing talking points... which really have no bearing on the discussion at hand. You use the word "invaders" to characterize the migrants. You insist that there are not that many women and children in the group. I say again, SO WHAT? Do you see women and children being gassed in these photos? I do. But your response: "It has been proven that the majority of the group of invaders are not women and children." Total hateful non sequitur nonsense, but you just had to shoehorn it in .. along with the "what about Obama" meme. I'm surprised you didn't get around to mentioning Hilary's emails and Benghazi .. but there's still time. Try engaging with the actual article next time.


Again, I wish you and your kind could try to stick to the point instead of doing your little culture warrior thing at every opportunity. It screws up every discussion. When you say "Welcome to the internet son" what you're really saying is "I'm going to ignore the post and just riff on whatever I want. Because I can." Silly me . .I still expect better from people.


OK, son .. I'll stop picking on you.

A small fraction of the caravan are women and children. That's the only group the news media focuses on. Why? The other 90% or so are men looking for jobs. One sympathizes with all of them but the "fleeing for their lives, seeking asylum" narrative is overblown. A guerrilla journalist takes a look for himself and finds the real story is much different than the news outlets portray:

"journalists" in the past have been caught faking photos and even editing them to make them sell (and editors happily publish them if it helps suppory their own biases)

It's not impossible.... But no way of knowing without being there IMHO...

So if there's no way of knowing, your logic says, of the millions of photographs taken, and the small number that were faked, that you should assume this was faked? That makes no sense. Occam's razor my friend, Occam's razor. Additionally, your claim that "editors happily sell them" is grossly misleading, if you bothered to do any research at all, you'd find that the last time Reuters discovered the had 2 fake images from 1 photographer, they immediately pulled every image (almost 1000) that photographer had ever supplied. There's zero reason for them to doctor this image, you don't think Fox News would have paid just as much for this image to show that Trump was right?? Of course they would.

Nope...but the tone of this article implies it's ridiculous to think it might be fake.
You on the other hand mentioned the Reuters incidents I was thinking of.

I've seen stories in local papers and TV shows that were clearly biased and if you read some of the stories linked by Yahoo (and yes Fox cable) you'll also see the same. I've complained about biased to try to educate the editors of local media sources only to see more stories with the same bias months later. It's not a Dem vs Repub issue... It's a people issue.

I was just saying it's not impossible for the fake comment to be real. And there's often an untold story to most stories.

pardon me while I grab my umbrella for the impending political sh*t-storm about to hit this comment section.

So.....there was no tear gas then? Thank havens. For a minute I thought that was another CNN story.

Honestly, I don't see how it's all that bad, staged or real! Such a small amount of tear gas, at that distance, isn't going to harm them. Sure, they're afraid but I'm guessing they faced much worse on the trip to the border.

Staged stuff? Nothing new. Some of you will remember the staged pickup truck fires (NBC) when pickups had the fuel cap near the driver's side door. I hope nobody is surprised by this...

Where were all the photographers when Obama was tear gassing the border?

I don't know if this photo is staged or not, but documentary photography has a long history of using creative framing and editing to make a point.

Simply by pointing a camera one way and not another, or by cropping an image, you can make a photo tell a certain story that might be contradicted by a photo with a wider field of view. This is true of many famous historical photos, with early examples going back to the Crimean War.

So to suggest that modern documentary photographers are paragons of objective truth is at best an incomplete view of what they do.

And to suggest that the vast majority of documentary photographers are there for anything other than to document the event is at best, a gross overstatement of the actions of a small minority. There's shitty people in every job from drive-thru, to President, the vast majority of ppl doing any job are just regular people doing their job without some secret alternate agenda.

Man... you have issues! ;-)

It never fails to amaze me how people can take what they see and hear and come to some flippant conclusion particularly when it comes to issues as important as our democracy, truth, liberty and compassion without doing their due diligence. I thought we were better than that but apparently not


If anything the fact that there are more photographers in the background makes the photo's authenticity more compelling. Surely if someone was staging a photo like this they wouldn't choose to put other photogs in their crowd of fleeing refugees.

Political lies have NOTHING to do with photography.
Please stop posting these irrelevant articles.

He's British; he can't help himself! ;-)

Tripods and lots of photographers does not mean staged. Broadcast cameras are heavy and need support for steady footage - that's a professional doing their job. Many people with cameras were there because the caravan is news, and these news photographers are there in great numbers to make sure that the world sees the truth.

If you think these photos are staged, I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you ...

Some people have to believe it's a fake because if it isn't then they can't stomach what it says about the administration they support and about their own morals !

That photo doesn't say anything. It's just not that big a deal. smh

^-- there's one of them now.

I don't know, or care, if it's a fake. Nor do I have any illusions about this or any previous administration. Having only that photo to go by, while I'm quite certain the woman and children were afraid, they weren't harmed or in any danger of being harmed. I'm also quite certain, however, someone who's spent their entire life, sitting on the couch, listening to stories like this, has a limited perspective on the realities of a difficult life.

It appears Mr. Don Winslow is a partisan opposed to President Trump. Regardless of the photo is "real" or "staged". In these times we live in a time of credibility on both sides of the political spectrum. Trust and vigorous self-examination of motives have fallen into the journalist ditch.

NASA published an image taken by the InSight Mars probe after touchdown, but some are claiming they have proof that the image is staged and the Earth is actually flat.

The earth IS flat! I just put a beach ball on the ground and it didn't roll away! ;-)

That settles the debate then...