BP Publishes Fake Image of Oil Spill Command Center

July 20, 2010 /PN/ In an attempt to demonstrate their concern with this whole situation where the Gulf of Mexico got in the way of their oil, BP have set up a photo gallery on their official website called "Response in pictures."

Here is one of the pictures of the Houston Command Center, which was on the site until earlier today, when John Aravosis has noticed that it is a fake photo, with three cut-and-paste underwater images into a wall of video feeds from remotely operated undersea vehicles:

As Aravosis highlights, the shot has been poorly Photoshoped. Here is a close-up which allows one to see some of the cutting and pasting:

After the story was picked up by The Washington Post, BP posted a low-resolution version of the "original":

Scott Dean, a spokesman for BP, said that there was nothing sinister in the photo alteration. He said that a photographer working for the company had inserted the three images in spots where the video screens were blank.

"Normally we only use Photoshop for the typical purposes of color correction and cropping," Dean said in an e-mail. "In this case they copied and pasted three ROV screen images in the original photo over three screens that were not running video feeds at the time."

John Aravosis pointed out the alterations Monday evening on his and observed, "I guess if you're doing fake crisis response, you might as well fake a photo of the crisis response center." The photo doctoring comes as BP has promised transparency in a bid to regain the public's trust.

Diana Topan


  1. Anonymous says

    BP is full of s**t!

    maurice says

    no, not again! how far can they go? how far will WE let them go?

    Fair Trade Photographer says

    As much as I dislike photo fakery, this does seem to be a bit of a storm in a teacup. I don't think this can be considered sinister, or an attempt to mislead the viewer about what is going on in the image, it is just trying to make the image look a bit better. Admittedly done in a cack-handed way, and foolish do do it (purely because these things get picked up more and more these days), but some big nasty corporate conspiracy? Come on folks.... get some perspective.

    Anonymous says

    I agree with Fair Trade Photographer and the storm in a tea cup comment to a certain point, but when it comes to ethics and photography I think it is a slippery slope. If this is meant to be photojournalism, don't you think reality needs to be reality with maybe an adjustment of contrast and color to finetune? On the other hand, if this image was for their annual report, that may be a different story. Sticky! Maybe the photographer should've gotten a different angle of the 6 screen on the left and we wouldn't be having this conversation.

    Anonymous says

    BP has a horrible image right now. If they truly care and show the American people they care, they must be careful about EVERYTHING they do. This includes trick photography. I'm unsure if BP will ever fully recover in the eyes of the American people and rightly so.

    Anonymous says

    Just hire me to do the photoshop

    Unknown says

    Frankly I say that there isn't any excuse for the alteration of the photo. It the screens were blank, then thats what should have been show. Regardless of what people say or think about you, the truth is an end statement that does not need to be layered with further explanations. A lie leads to another lie, and another lie to try and make the first lie believible. If this would not have been uncovered, what would they have tried next? "We got the public with the O' Photo-rooni, now lets try ...".

    Anonymous says

    I think this is gently sinister. There's a valve on the bottom of the sea and a load of blokes looking at it. It doesn't look busy enough and belies the fact that there isn't a lot they can do. So they 'sexed it up', and we all know what that kind of thing can lead to.

    Jerry Swanson says

    John Aravosis should be thanked for informing the public form BP misinformation.

    The photos go beyond color correction and minor adjustments.

    Great work.

    Jerry Swanson says

    John Aravosis, great work.

    The public has found out how BP was not accurate or truthful with the photos.

    The images go beyond color correction and minor adjustments.

    Unknown says

    BP CEO Tony Hayward said yesterday, "So far I'm unscathed ... sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me."
    So now on the Gulf Coast, along with the attempted beach clean ups, the hunt is now on for sticks and stones.

    Unknown says

    The good news is that BP is now capturing up to 630,000 gallons of oil a day, that has spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. The bad news is that they're capturing it with pelicans and seabirds and all the other marine life.

    Anonymous says

    BP is pure evil. They want the end of mankind or at least reduce it to 500M. This disaster is a success to them.

    Anonymous says

    Thank you for spotlighting photography of the oil spill. A picture is worth a thousand words.

    BP is restricting photography of the spill. See:


    Not willing to give into the notion of doing nothing, the Center for a Better South has launched a new project to shine a different light on what’s happening in the Gulf. The center, a pragmatic nonpartisan policy think tank, has started a collaborative photo blog — — to pair vivid images of what the spill means to people with their stories and perspectives.

    Please encourage everyone to send photos of the spill to
    Together we can show and document the truth.


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