Wednesday, May 10, 2006

why photograph war?

got this from my friend jonna who got it from a friend of hers...


"Why photograph war? Is it possible to put an end to a form of human behavior which is existent throughout history by means of photography? The proportions of that notion seem ridiculously out of balance yet that very idea has motivated me. For me, the strength of photography lies in its ability to evoke a sense of humanity.

If war is an attempt to negate humanity, then photography can be perceived as the opposite of war. And if it's used well, it can be a powerful ingredient in the antidote to war. In a way, if an individual assumes the risk of placing himself in the middle of a war in order to communicate to the rest of the world what is happening, he's trying to negotiate for peace; perhaps that's the reason why those in charge of perpetuating the war do not like to have photographers around.

In the field where your experience is extremely immediate, what you see is not an image of a page in magazine ten thousand miles away with an advertisement for the Rolex watches in the next page. What you see is unmedicated pain, injustice and misery.

It's recurred to me that if everyone could be there just once, to see for themselves what white phosphorus does to the face of a child, and what unspeakable pain is caused by the impact of a single bullet or how a jagged piece of shrapnel can rip someone's leg off. If everyone could be there to see for themselves the fear and the grief just one time, then they would understand that nothing is worth letting things get to the point where that happens to even one person; let alone thousands. But everyone cannot be there. And that is why photographers go there. To show them, to reach out and grab them and make them stop what they're doing and pay attention to what is going on.. to create pictures powerful enough to overcome the deluding effects of the mass media and shake people out of their indifference.. To protest, and by the strength of that protest, to make others protest."

~ James Nachtwey, War Photographer

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