How Photos Lie

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At first glance, this photo of two people kissing amidst the Vancouver hockey riots seems incongruous. You instantly assume they're activists, following through with the old adage of making love, not war. Or are they?

You see, this photo—which has gone viral thanks to Twitter and the various news sites that reported on the Canadian riot—actually isn't all it seems to be. In fact, one witness has an entirely different story from the photo, of the events from that night:

Speaking to the Vancouver Sun, witness William said:

"The girl who was knocked over landed head first on the pavement with her boyfriend landed partially on top of her. She was in visible pain, crying, but the two officers gave them a parting shove and moved on. Bystanders went to make sure she was OK."


Those caring bystanders can be pictured in this image here, as the boyfriend is still laid next to his girlfriend, who's raised her hand to her mouth, almost as if she's crying.

Even the photographer of that now world-famous photo, Richard Lam, admits "initially I thought one of them was hurt." It was his editor however, who thought they were kissing, not hurt:

"I knew I had captured a 'moment' when I snapped the still forms against the backdrop of such chaos but it wasn't until later when I returned to the rink to file my photos that my editor pointed out that the two people were not hurt, but kissing."


Lam should've trusted his instincts, if the supporting photo and witnesses' claims are anything to go by. The man in the photo is said to be a 29-year-old Australian man, Scott Jones, who relocated to Vancouver to work for six months. According to his sister, he wrote "classic! This was shortly after the riot police run over the top of us and naturally Alex needed some comforting" on his Facebook profile, which could either be seen as making light of his girlfriend Alex's injuries, or a tongue-in-cheek remark about their demonstration...if that's indeed what it was.

What do you think? [The Guardian, Image by Richard Lam, Getty Images]