What is the impact of war photography within war itself and within society who are viewing these images? Does it affect us and the war itself? I have been reading a journal about this to try and get more insight into this topic.
this journal looked specifically into;
(1) does photojournalism, with particular reference to war photography, promote death and suffering?
(2) Do photographers, who put themselves in danger of being killed, have an ulterior motive?
(3) Will these images printed in newspapers, exhibited on the Internet and in photo galleries prevent more atrocities from happening?
(4) And finally, how does viewing these images affect the viewer? Are they a catalyst to reform or awareness?
Susan Sontag wrote, “to catch a death actually happening and embalm it for all time is something only cameras can do” (59).
A photograph is able to capture a moment in time, able to freeze it in order to be able to view it over and over again. In a way it is more powerful than a moving image as it sticks in our mind, a frozen image which helps us remember that specific event. This is very common with war images, viewing images of a death during war it embeds a sad thought into our minds and we will constantly refer back to that image in our mind.
Photographs like this are also extremely commercialised…
Images of trauma are part of our political economy. Papers are sold, television programs gain audience share, careers are advanced, jobs are created, and prizes are awarded through the appropriation of images of suffering
Images are constantly sold where there is suffering involved. Photographs are the only way that society can see what is going on in these countries without being there themselves that is why they sell so much like said above in papers, on the television, programs, and now through social media they circulate on twitter, Facebook, youtube, etc.
photojournalists were particularly vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In the article, Feinstein and Owen write, “war photography, by its nature may attract individuals who seek out risk, danger and the adrenaline rush, thereby predisposing them to PTSD”
Bearing witness to war could have a devastating psychological effect with PTSD being the outcome, or even worse, suicide. In the Kleinmans’ argument they used New York Times photographer, Kevin Carter as an example. He had committed suicide in July 1994, just a few months after he won a Pulitzer Prize for a photograph of a starving Sudanese child squatting on the ground while a vulture stood nearby in the foreground.
As well as the actual soldiers getting post traumatic stress photographers who go out to do this type of work also suffer from it as they are witnessing all this first hand to show to the public. They are putting themselves in a position where they know they will have to see such awful things and have to capture these moments so that they can last forever. As said above, some photographers even take their own life, like Kevin Carter.
He was South African photographer whose image of a starving Sudanese toddler stalked by a vulture won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1994. He found dead shortly after from suicide.
Mr. Carter began his work as a sports photographer in 1983, but soon moved to the front lines of South African political strife, recording images of repression, anti-apartheid protest and fratricidal violence for several South African newspapers and more recently as a freelance photographer.
He was arrested several times for violating a South African ban on reporting of the domestic conflict.
– NY Times
Bill Keller. (1994). Kevin Carter, a Pulitzer Winner For Sudan Photo, Is Dead at 33. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/1994/07/29/world/kevin-carter-a-pulitzer-winner-for-sudan-photo-is-dead-at-33.html. Last accessed 2nd April 2014.
Maria Russo. (2013). Behind the Lens: Photography’s Role and Impact in Times of War. . 1 (All), 2-13.