Michael Coyne challenges us about the real power of photography. Do we look or turn away?
"Award-winning American photographer, Kenneth Jarecke, was talking about his image of the charred body of an Iraqi soldier taken during the 1990 Gulf War. Most of the American media refused to publish the photograph including Life Magazine whose editor, James Gaines, told the British Journal of Photography: “We thought that this was the stuff of nightmares.”
"However, some other photo editors were critical of publications for not publishing the picture, saying that the media were sanitising the war, trying to make it clean with no dead bodies. In other words, they were producing propaganda. “War is about dead people, not gorgeous-looking soldiers,’’ said Susan Sontag, author of Regarding the Pain of Others.
"Nothing changes it seems. We are now suffering from the same type of censorship regarding the coverage of the Ukrainian war. David Hume Kennerly, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, recently wrote a guest column in the New York Times criticising publications for holding back images from Ukraine or for using disclaimers that say, “Warning: Graphic Material.”
"It’s not only war images that are censored or withheld by the media and governments. The Farm Security Administration (FSA) which produced over eighty thousand images depicting living conditions in 1930’s rural America and taken by luminary photographers such as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, Ben Shahn, John Vachon, Marion Post Wolcott, Russell Lee, Jack Delano, John Collier Jr, Carl Mydans and Gordon Parks, also faced censorship. The FSA found itself being attacked by conservative critics as being too socialist, lacking in objectivity and constituting propaganda. Some photographers were even accused of manipulating the images of the Great Depression for political effect."
And still it happens today as Michael explains. Do you agree with him?
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