The Last Photo


On Thursday May 3, 2007 at 2:29pm, Kate McCann took a photo of husband Gerry and daughters Amelie and Madeleine. On the first version of the official Find Madeleine website we were told:

Gerry and Kate McCann have released the last photograph of their daughter before her abduction in the Algarve three weeks ago.

The picture is of Madeleine sitting by the swimming pool on the day she was snatched from her bed.

Kate took the photo of Madeleine at 2.29pm on May 3 – Mrs McCann’s camera clock is one hour out so the display reads 1.29pm. Less than eight hours later, before 10pm that night, Madeleine disappeared.

The original full sized last photo. It includes Gerry, Amelie and Madeleine.
There are several observations one may deduce from this information:

  1. The parents say Madeleine was snatched from her bed before 10pm.
  2. Was Kate standing in the pool when she took the photo, or using zoom and standing on the other side of the pool?
  3. The McCanns emphasise the fact that this photo was taken at 2:29pm and also tell us that Mrs. McCann’s camera clock was one hour out with (presumably) the date stamp on the digital photo being 1:29pm.

Madeleine Close-up by the pool. Allegedly on May 3, 2007.

Another mystery concerns the release of this photograph. Why release it three weeks after Madeleine disappeared? Many older photographs were released into the public domain before this one – perhaps the most important photo of all. Why the delay? Could it be because this “last photo” is a forgery? Do the McCanns want us to believe Madeleine was alive at 2:29pm for a specific reason?

This cropped version of Madeleine suggests an image resolution from the camera of at least 1600×1200 pixels.

Is she wearing a bathing costume? Assuming Madeleine left the pool shortly after this time, isn’t she bone dry?

The “Last Photo” is shown above and to the right. The photo at the right is a popular crop from the main photo. Various versions of this photo have appeared in the media but these are the two most popular versions.


A detailed analysis of the photo in relation to it being a forgery first appeared in the Daily Mirror Forum.

The first Daily Mirror Forum with a Madeleine McCann section was terminated at the end of 2007 due to disruption. However, the original article was saved and is available on this site (here).

The focus of attention on this rather long and technical analysis is the sun and shadows which are used to estimate the real time of day when the photos was probably taken. A lot of hard work has gone into the analysis but this site is more concerned with looking at how such a forgery may have actually been done. If at all!


The Pool Photo assuming Madeleine wasnt in the original.

Looking at the last photo reveals several clues without resorting to technical analysis of shadow length and sun positions. Assuming the photo is a forgery, these are good reasons for it:

1. The composition of the photograph is bad. Most people centre the subject and are pretty good at doing so with a modern digital camera because you see a preview in the viewing screen. Madeleine looks off-centred in this respect.

2. Madeleine is clearly distracted at something funny off to her left. Amelie is disinterested in the distraction and Gerry is firmly looking at Kate as she takes the photo.

3. There are no overlapping features on Madeleine. Her body, arms, hair, and hat are all overlaid on the background. This makes it easy to “paste in” Madeleine with a software package like Photoshop.

4. Madeleine does not look to be wearing swim-wear. Kate is probably in the water and that would suggest the children were also in the mood to swim. Neither child nor Gerry look wet. Isn’t it odd to take a photo from within the water?
Madeleine could just as easily been placed to her fathers right if the picture has been processed in Photoshop.

5. Amelie’s twin brother Sean is absent from the photo. For a family image, why exclude Sean? If Sean was making Madeleine laugh then why not pan round and included him so all 4 family members are in the shot?

6. The time/date stamp on a digital image is easily modified on a PC and a camera clock could be out by any number of minutes. Indeed, someone could alter the time before taking a photo. Why stress the one hour time difference or draw attention to it?

7. Why did it take 3 weeks to publish this photo? Surely there were many photos taken that week in Praia da Luz? Some say this photo seems staged or manipulated. It took 15 minutes to remove Madeleine from Photo A and less time than that to add Madeleine to Photo C. 3 weeks was plenty time enough to create any kind of photo or illusion.


Shadows missing between Gerrys legs.

Look carefully at Gerry and it seems like he’s floating in mid-air. The reason is because you can’t see a shadow under his right knee being cast onto the tiled surface of the pool edge. The patio furniture clearly casts a shadow and it would be expected to be darker under Mr. McCann’s knee and thigh. Also, there is no darkness at all between his right thumb and forefinger. Instead we see the concrete edge of the pool having virtually the same lightness as the rest of the pool edge in the photo. At this place there would clearly be more shading from his thigh and arm/wrist.


When the Last Photo was released, the stories accompanying its release also spoke of Kate carefully removing a hair bead before washing Madeleine’s hair and bathing her in the evening. The bead is highlighted in red in this close-up part of Madeleine’s hair. Here is a link to the article published by the Daily Mail on May 25, 2007 (Click here). The article says “It shows Madeleine with her father Gerry and two-year-old sister Amelie, sitting beside the pool in their Algarve holiday apartment complex. Her mother Kate is behind the camera with Amelie’s twin brother Sean.”

So here is some ambiguity about the position of Kate and Sean. From this description it clearly was not Sean making Madeleine laugh. If not then who was? Evidently Sean was in the pool or on the opposite side of the pool with his mother. Inconsistencies like this are typical in this case. The Daily Mail goes on: “In the evening her parents gave her a bath, took out her trendy hair bead and washed her hair. Then they tucked her up alongside Sean and Amelie before kissing them all goodnight.”

Some readers have questioned the order that the bead was removed. One person who contacted this website asked “Why would KM mention removing the bead unless the “last photo” was from a different day and on the 3rd there was no bead? or maybe was the bead found in the room by the PJ?”

Someone else pointed out something even more strange about the bead. It doesn’t even look like a bead at all. It looks more like an elastic which has been used to hold her hair in place and has been doubled over and over. After looking at it closely, it certainly looks more like elastic than a single bead.


In the Daily Telegraph on May 27. 2007, Kate McCann described how, after taking the final photograph of Madeleine before she was snatched, she can no longer bear to use her camera. “She looked lovely,” said Mrs. McCann, recalling the moment Madeleine was pictured with her father beside a swimming pool. “She was wearing a new outfit, a pink smock. That picture sums up her week. Every minute of every day she was enjoying herself. She went to bed exhausted. I haven’t been able to use the camera since I took that last photograph of her.” (Click here for the original article)


It is unknown whether or not the Last Photo is a forgery. The only way to prove conclusively if Photo A is the same image that came out of the camera is to examine the original. All images circulated on the Internet are modified from that original and as such cannot be scrutinised with any degree of accuracy. What TRUTH For Madeleine has shown is how the Last Photo could easily have been forged without much more than a reasonable amount of skill with a software photo editing package.

The photo itself is odd. The circumstances of taking the photo are strange in that the family have stressed the time of the photo. TRUTH For Madeleine cannot conclude that this photo is fake or forged but does find that the family are not helping their own cause by releasing this image three weeks after Madeleine’s disappearance.

What is the tiny black line behind Amelie?

The time difference of one hour is quite easily explained away. The holiday in Praia da Luz was little over a month after the clocks changed for daylight saving time. A lot of people forget to change clocks that are usually not seen on a daily basis. The clock inside a camera is such a clock. There is really nothing untoward about a one hour discrepancy. However, as the time on a digital image is easily modifiable, it really makes no point discussing the time per se. Why then make a song and dance about the time on the official Madeleine website? Was the time needed to reinforce the McCann’s alibi?

Further analysis of the photo has resulted in people emailing TRUTH For Madeleine and in particular, it was brought to our attention that there is a strange black line behind Amelie. Is this a remnant left behind after cutting and pasting from another image or is it simply a feature of the swimming pool edge? If so, why is the black line nowhere else to be seen?

The reader can make up his/her own conclusions but bear in mind this paragraph in the Daily Mail article on May 25, 2007: “During the day of her disappearance they had all gone for a walk, played tennis, and taken some more snapshots for the family album before relaxing by the pool.” So, the McCanns did take more pictures but have deliberately chosen not to release any. Click (here) to read the full article.

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