Altering Photos in Photoshop for Fundraising Purposes – Okay?

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    I am interested in comments to the following scenario.

    A Torah institution hires a professional to photograph the large Beis medrash in action for a fund-raising calendar. The pictures come out beautifully, but someone notices that one of the talmidim learning is dressed in a shirt that doesn’t conform to the image the institution wants to project. In addition, a very few seats in the beis medrash are empty. The photographer is asked to digitally change the color of the one talmid’s shirt, and to add virtual talmidim to the empty seats so the beis medrash appears full. The photographer obliges.

    Comments, please.


    In my oppinion, the image can be altered to project the usual circumstances of the Yeshiva.

    If, on the other hand, the bais medrash is never full etc. etc., it would be geneivas da’as to imply otherwise.

    But there is a big grey area in-between these two points.


    Would it be any different if the hanhala would have required all the talmidim to wear white shirts that day?

    I think the hanhala should ask whoever they ask their shailos of.


    I know that there was the famous story of how Reb Ahron Kotler noticed that when they advertised the Yeshiva, the artist enhanced the pictures of the surroundings with beautiful trees and green.

    The Rosh Yeshiva saw this as a form of deception and requested the artist redo his work with more authentic graphics.


    They could always crop out the guy.


    what makes this question even more interesting is that it was posed by “onlyemes” – I would think that for someone who uses that moniker, it wouldn’t be a question because I do not see the emes in this at all.


    nossond welcome back.

    are you going to post more of your divrei torah soon?


    mdlevine: The title (Altering Photos in Photoshop for Fundraising Purposes – Okay?) was composed by the editor, not by me. I did not pose a question, I simply stated a scenario and asked for comments.



    As I mentioned long ago, I went back to my cave. Hopefully, however, I will post something now and then, but I’m not going to put myself all out on the level that I did. B’ezras HaShem, the right time and place will arrive for me to share my dvri Torah.


    md, I was the one who edited the title of the topic. If you look at the URL you will notice that the original title submitted by OP was “photoshop in torah institutions”.


    If they expect people to donate more based on the impression they get from the photoshopped picture, how is that not geneivas da’as?


    onlyemes and “39” thank you for clarifying.

    I am curious though:

    onlyemes, you raised the issue, is this a hypothetical or do you know that this happened with complete certainty and assuming the 2nd option, what is your opinion?

    I remeber the same story that nameless mentioned above. and there is the famous story with R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky Z’TL where he stopped collecting for a Yeshiva.


    If a yeshiva has guys learning there with blue shirts (which I assume was the problem with the boy’s shirt) then maybe donors should know it.


    i am pretty familiar with digital editing.. i am sometimes asked to fix tznius issues in the photos of the advertising literature that a certain Learning institution sends out periodically. same question? different?


    sry but i just dont get it

    so they photoshoped a pic? is that worse then making the guy change his shirt before the pic???

    so they added more people who were not there is that better then getting other grades or people to come in to fill the room???

    most of these pics are staged 1 way or annother

    u gotta be nutso to think not


    The whole message that is being portrayed is that wearing a blue shirt conveys inferiority when compared to someone wearing a white shirt. This is a horrible message to send out.

    A picture should ALWAYS portray reality, unless specifically noted otherwise in a caption. If R’ Ovadya Yosef were sitting there would they have photoshopped out his colored robe as well?



    this topic and your question is quite intriguing. as a professional graphic designer i encounter such situations often, and it brings up a few points: First of all, the whole concept of Photoshop is to play into a certain psychology and pre-conceived notions that people have about an image. So for example, the most common type of “photoshopping” is to alter something on the face (taking out pimples, undereye marks etc) to make the person look more ‘presentable’ or ‘polished’ by today’s standards. I believe that such editing is not geneivas da’as per say, since one is only ENHANCING that which is already there. Photoshopping elements of one’s appearance, is similar to putting on makeup before a photo, but instead of enhancing before the picture (makeup), the enhancements are put in afterwards (photoshopping).

    The question then becomes, <b>what are we using the Photoshop tools for- enhancing or deceiving?</b> Many would agree that in today’s day and age, most of the images we see from the secular media are of an “ideal” image, that is simply deceitful. NO ONE ever looks like a person in a magazine, and no one ever will, because such an image does not exist in reality. It is sad to think that so many girls, for example, idealize such images and behave in unhealthy manners to achieve it, but I digress.

    In the case of your specific question, another layer of psychology is presented, as this institution does or does not want to convey a certain stereotype-with the shirt color of the bochurim (in my opinion, this is a clear indication of the focus of gashmius on our generation, but again, I digress). On this point i agree with tzippi, that changing the color of his shirt is no different than having told the bochurim “tomorrow is picture day, so everyone wear a nice white shirt”, (which is done in many yeshivos and bais yaakov schools anyway). In no way is a person looking at this flyer or brochure deceived, as long as this is a yeshiva where boys DO wear white shirts usually.

    As for “filling up the Beis Medrash”, that one is a bit tricker, and a shailah should probably be asked. While shirt color has no bearing on the level of Torah study in this yeshiva, projecting an image of a full Beis Medrash when there usually may not be one, could be considered geneivas da’as. Anyway, a Beis Medrash with a few empty seats is a more natural look anyway, unless this yeshiva’s Beis Medrash is always filled to capacity, which most are not. An institution should definitely not use graphics tools to imply a higher level of Torah study then is actually present. While using “fillers” or other such tools is OK for gashmius aspects of an institutions, one must be very careful when portraying the ruchnius aspect of a yeshiva, which should remain true to the spirit of the school.


    Uchiknow, I agree with you on the white shirt-blue shirt thing. It’s crazy how the colour of someone’s shirt should matter… but it does, for some reason.

    Uri in Jerusalem


    Is it a man’s job to fix tznius issues ? If you can see the pictures why can’t everyone else see them too & if everyone else shouldn’t be seeing them, then how can you see them ?

    Maybe a woman should do the fixing ?


    I heard when R’ A. Feure was young he got a call to speak at a dinner, and during the call the caller indicated they wanted him to speak only if he’ll wear a ‘Frak’. His father-in-law, R’ M. Gifter z”l, told him he shouldn’t speak for a mosad that’s not ’emes’.

    If one person happened to be seated there wearing a blue shirt it shouldn’t sound any alarm and it shouldn’t diminish the Yeshiva’s good image in any way. On the contrary, I think caring about these externals in such an extreme manner is far far worse than 10 guys wearing purpal shirts…


    I agree with you MD


    You know those black and white photographs that have just one element in color? I imagine that a photo of a beis medrash with all black and white except for one colored shirt would look like that.


    Then kick the guy out of yeshiva if you can’t handle the image of a blue shirt.


    ames wrote:

    What is emes? What’s in the picture or what really exists?

    What exists is emes. The picture should reflect what exists.

    If the Yeshiva allows boys to wear shirts other than white in the Beis Medrash, then there is no reason to change the color of the shirt. If they allow only white shirts in the Beis Medrash, the boy should have been told to change his shirt whether or not a picture was being taken.

    if at points in the day there are empty chairs, the picture should reflect that. It would be nice if everyseat was always filled, however, the picture should reflect the reality.

    This is true whether the picture is being used to raise money for the institution or as a promotional guide to draw other young men to their program.


    Actually, Yentish, I wasn’t voicing an opinion at all. Just curious what he thought.


    There is a story about a godol that was being photgraphed by Ed Bernstein and Mr. Ed Bernstein missed the shot he wanted and asked the rosh yeshiva to “do the pose again.” The rosh yeshiva said absolutely not but was willing to stand and smile so Mr. Bernstein can get the pictures he wanted.

    This is gadlus because the rosh yeshiva had patience and was at the same time teaching no fake redo’s. If you miss the shot you miss the shot and the rosh yeshiva was willing to do whatever it takes so Mr. Bernstein can get his few pictures.

    There are amazing stories about Gedolim and what they say is right and wrong with editing and the general shailos that come up for photgraphers.

    Mishpacha Magazine had stories by Ed Bernstein a couple of months ago. It’s a must read.

    Rav Gifter Zt”l was also known as a no non sense person and would not go in for any fake stuff. Rav Giter never minded being photgraphed as long as it was bekovidig Rav Gifter would never go in for faking photographs. It’s one thing to edit for tznius purposes or because someone looked horrible in the picture but to change an appearence to make it look like something of what the place or picture is not, Rav Gifter said many times it is sheker.

    Pashuteh Yid

    Interesting that Rav Eliashiv has an explicit tshuvah in his sefer if one can lie or exaggerate to make up mayselach of gedolei yisroel in order to inspire talmidim. He frowns upon it, but compares it to a hesped where under very limited conditions one can add some praise to enhance kovod hames (in shulchan oruch).

    Parenthetically, the fact that the question was asked him, sheds some light on the Chazon Ish neurosurgery story and possibly quite a few others.


    The Chazon Ish story is Emes. Speak to Rav Ephraim Wachsman for details (per Feivel.) There is a very old CR thread on it.


    Why on earth would anyone care if the boy is wearing a blue shirt? He’s in a yeshiva, not the IDF or the US Army.

    If this yeshiva is happy to indulge in false advertising yet has fits over a plain blue shirt (we assume it’s a plain blue shirt and not a t-shirt with a Harley-Davidson logo) then what sort of middos would they be transmitting to their talmidim?


    Most of the time it’s the donors who have problems with blue shirts, not the yeshiva. They are trying to appeal to donors. Daas chachamim hepech midaas baalei batim.


    Midwest2, Why are you more accepting of a secular Army strictly enforcing a standard uniform, but not Hashem’s Army (in the Yeshiva’s)?


    I think it is false advertising and geneivas daas to photo shop ANY advertisements or appeals for tzeddaka. To clarify on some of the points mentioned above:

    1. If the yeshiva usually looks one way (completely full), but on that day that the picture was taken a large number of boys were out sick, then perhaps it would be ok.

    2. Was the boy who’s shirt was changed color a student at the institution or a guest?

    3. Adding nature and greenery to the surroundings is problematic. It can show that the money collected goes towards trees and flowers. On the other hand, many people like knowing that the institution has pride in themselves and their institution and might want to give more towards it than usual. But, if it isnt…..

    4. At weddings, the photographs are many times enhanced, blemishes taken away ect. These pictures are not for public displays or announcements so there would be no genaivas daas involved, to the best of my knowledge.If it was a photographer trying to show how well he takes pictures, then that would be different. Computers arent the same as talents. For institutions to make the picture clearer or make it look a little sharper it might be different.

    Basically, the institution should be very carefully walking the fine line between natural enhancements and gineivas daas. Why dont they just tell the photographer to come back another day?


    forgetting about the white shirt- blue shirt thing…

    and i know this might sound silly if you’re not in the business, but if the situation is as portrayed, meaning that it looks like a sea of black and white and one colored sticking out,

    one of the first things any graphic designer would do, is change it to a white shirt or crop him out, just because if you don’t, when you look at he picture, your eye is (subconsciously or consciously) drawn to the colored shirt

    just by the mere fact that it is different.


    ambush- so take the picture another time or leave him out of the view. But to purposely alter the picture… that I have an issue with.


    People ask why would anyone care. It’s not about wether we care or not. After 120 years go explain to g-d and ask what the big deal is (anaology)when someone was caught stealing from a millionaire. Afterall the person was rich anyway so who cares.

    It might be logic to you but get real!

    This topic is not a matter of if what we think it is right or not it’s about what does the torah say and how do gedolim pasken on the issue.

    It would be nice to hear from photographers and find out if they ever played the shtick.


    Thanks to all who have so far responded with their comments on the scenario I wrote above.

    This scenario is not hypothetical, but happened recently at a well known yeshiva, and the proof is incontrovertible. I think that the rules of the site here prevent me from offering more details.


    If I am wrong, the editor will let me know.


    You are right, but it is not per the rules here per se, but rather the rules from above.

    Per both


    To Joseph: if that’s the yeshiva’s dress code, fine. But AFAIK Hashem’s Army does NOT require white shirts. Find me a chazal that says that Torah learned in anything but a button down white shirt doesn’t have kiyum.


    Tzippi, Hashem’s Army has a uniform. As far as what that uniform constitutes, ask your local Rosh Yeshiva (or Rov.)


    tzippi- correct. Joseph did not mean that one who doesn’t have this “uniform” is not fit to study or learn C”V rather it is accepted in most Yeshivos to have a dress code and Bochrim are definitely in Hashem’s Army…

    Regarding the whole issue I think anything that strays from the truth is Ossur and everything which doesn’t is Mutar- foolproof!!! If the Yeshiva DOES have some blue-shirted Bochrim and they want to delete him because they feel people will give less to that kind of Mosod then it is definitely wrong to take him it because it is straying from the truth.


    Re the color of shirts:

    Look at all the pictures from the Yeshivas in Europe – the Mir, Telz, all the rest. Do you see a bunch of identically dressed bochrim in neat black and white? No – you see people dressed in all kinds of suits and hats. No artificial uniformity there. Does it mean that their Torah was inferior to that of today’s bochrim who dress “kosher l’mehadrin” according to the local custom/prejudice of those who can afford it (and also those who can’t)? ***EDITED*** to remove names of specific Yeshivas. YW Moderator-72

    Let’s concentrate on the ikar, not the tofel. (Maybe that way we’ll have fewer people going off the derech, too.)


    Midwest2- sorry mate but you’ve missed the boat. Because TODAY there is a dress code in Yeshiva, someone who strays from that dress code if he is in THAT Yeshiva is making a statement- I’m not like you guys. In the olden days there was no dress code yet so it’s perfectly fine to dress how you wanted but if the Klal is going one way and you want to stick out, that is wrong. Again I’m talking about the black and white Yeshivas of today…



    Who says the person was a student of the yeshiva? Perhaps he just came in to learn? Are you telling me he is not welcome because he is wearing a blue shirt?

    Also does that Yeshiva have a dress code of white shirts only? Even at the time of the picture (which was just copied from a previous year)?

    I agree though with the point of following the yeshiva’s rules if you are a member of the yeshiva.


    I think the conversation may be skewed in the favour of blue shirts, being that everyone here has internet, which means that OF COURSE it’s for work, which means that YOU WORK r”l!!


    Forgive me for interrupting here, but from a broad sociological point of view, I find it absolutely astounding that every single one of the colored shirt commentators have assumed that the boy’s shirt was blue, and not green, gray, brown, beige, or any other color under the sun. Where did this incredibly narrow assumption come from?

    Full disclosure: In the original photograph, the talmid’s shirt is blue.


    after one of the agent emes videos, the creator/director gave some short comments about the filming and fixing mistakes. during the shooting of the beginning of a scene agent emes was wearing white socks and when they shot the final part of the scene he was wearing black socks. He explained the procedure to color the socks white to keep the continuity going.

    this is the way “hollywood” works. All is built on illusion.

    Our Yeshivas are based on emes.

    Did anyone ask the Rosh Yeshiva what they should do re: the shirt color and the empty chair(s)?

    Did the person(s) in charge of the shoot make the decision opting to go for the “hollywood” illusion and pushing aside the Yeshivas path of Emes?

    Having no knowledge of the Yeshiva in question (nor wanting to know which one it is) but knowing the straightness of our Rosh Yeshivas and also knowing that the good intentions of those trying to do really good deeds may sometimes lead a person to have a lapse in judgement – my guess would be that if the Rosh Yeshiva did not send the boy (or boys) out for wearing non-white shirts and the Rosh Yeshiva never refused to give the shiur if there was an empty chair (or chairs) then he would not have objected to the photograph. If he would not have allowed boys in without white-shirts, he probably would have forbidden the use of the picture as it does not portray his Yeshiva accurately.

    My suspicion is that the organizer(s) of the photo shoot and the photographer made this decision on their own with the best of intentions. Living in a society that places high value on marketing and packaging may have been the biggest factor in their analysis and they may have made the assumption that the “hollywood” illusion approach has more benefit – portrayal of image, than cost – redoing the shoot, and forgetting of the intangible benefit of emes and cost of lack of emes.


    Aside from the rights and wrongs of photoshopping this picture, is the issue that last year the photo was sent out with the blue shirt (creating an opportunity for a lot of jokes around the internet). This year the yeshiva sent out the exact same photo with the changes mentioned by the op. Many people noticed this, and a lot of those who didn’t were made aware of it via various blogs. Whatever the yeshiva’s reason for editing the image, whether it was due to their hashkafos or purely for aesthetic purposes, they are asking for trouble by doing this so blatantly. The person(s) in charge should have been a bit smarter.

    Pashuteh Yid

    The fact that the kedoshim in Europe wore light suits and hats of any style shows explicitly that Hashem’s army has no black and white dress code. It is only today where artificial chitzonius is the norm, that such a dress code has evolved, the same as the Borsalino hat. (Is the Borsalino also a part of Hashem’s army’s dress code? What did the Rishonim do before the opening of the Borsalino company? Do the Rishonim have any chelek in Olam Haba?)

    It is just a game of appearing yeshivish and wanting to fit in with a certain crowd and in some cases, wanting to feel that one is above the hamon am. There are many sincere yidden who dress many different ways.


    I don’t understand why they just didn’t take a new picture for the new year. Heck, I would have done it for low-cost.

    The Wolf


    In previous years there were alot of jokes about the colored shirt so this year they photoshopped it. A logical reaction. The reaction that, “oh this is not emes”, absurd.

    Like a commenter said above, one person obviously different from the rest will just draw attention to that individual. The purpose of the picture is to to show the Yeshiva as a whole. There is is the intitution as a whole and the individuals who are parts thereof. This was a picture of the Yeshiva as a whole and not intended to focus on the individual talmidim who make it up. (Do not get started that yeshivas should treat talmidim as individuals, that is not what this is about at all.)

    I do not know about filling empty seats, however what I remember of the Yeshiva is that there are not empty seats and the picture must have been taken at an odd time.

    As an aside, there is such a concept of uniform. A unifrom identifies as to which group a person identifies themself with. Nowadays, almost all Yeshiva Leit wear white shirts and dark pants. To dress as such means to identify with that group and to specifically dress differently means to exclude one’s self.

    The color of the shirt does not make a person better or worse, however by taking pains to be different, the person seeks to segregate themself from the group.Every one has unique strengths, but they can consider themself as seperate from the whole or, they can use their uniquiness to enhance the group. That is why, although a uniform does not make an individual, it is looked at as indicator of their own perception of how they relate to the group as a whole. When individuals seek to sepearte from a group or join a group, one of the first things they will do is to change their mode of dress. And this is is not solely among the heimish, this cuts across every facet of society.

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