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Public execution photo

Would you have take this photo?

http://www.worldpressphoto.com/index.php?option=com_photogallery&task=view&id=831&Itemid=146&bandwidth=high

I wouldn’t, and I wouldn’t have given it an award either.

I think the truth must be documented but I think there are higher values such as human dignity.

by Alexandre Vaz at 2007-02-09 13:08:20 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Lisbon , Portugal | Bookmark | | Report spam→

I can’t honestly say if I would or not, but I’m glad someone did. That is straight up evidence.

by Allen Sullivan | 09 Feb 2007 13:02 | Atlanta, Georgia, United States | | Report spam→
If you could identify the man then I might agree, but you can’t. The image simply demonstrates the reality of the situation.

by Nicola J Cutts | 09 Feb 2007 13:02 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
I don’t know if it’s “worthy” of an award but hell yes I would take that picture. It is the hidden travesties that are so much more perilous to us all than the ethics of whether a photo should have been taken. Where is the dignity in a secret killing? Would you have taken the photos in Abu Graihb prison of the Iraqis being humiliated? Not much dignity in that either but obviously it desperately needed to be exposed.

You have to step back sometimes and look at the bigger picture. Playing the “dignity card” to either censor or cause journalists to self-censor is how the US got to a situation where the casualties of war go mostly unknown—photographers are not allowed to document transportation of the caskets, for example.

I asked a marine helicopter pilot once what he thought of the photo of the soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishou, where he had himself served. I expected an anti-press tirade. Instead, he said “Hey, that’s war, and if people are going to send us to these places they have to know what is going on there.”

If you go to cover those situations, it’s your job to show people what is going on in these places.

by Dave Yoder | 09 Feb 2007 14:02 (ed. Feb 9 2007) | Milan, Italy | | Report spam→
but if the photographer wasn’t there would it still have happened, would the person still have been executed? If not then the moral dilemma changes….
cheers,
jeremy

by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert | 09 Feb 2007 14:02 | Tokyo, Japan | | Report spam→
… And if a frog had wings it wouldn’t bump its ass a-hoppin’…

I’d be willing to bet a lot more summary executions have been prevented by the presence of cameras than caused.

You could what-if this and countless situations to the end of time. It’s a deviation from the question of whether we should show the worst of bad things.

by Dave Yoder | 09 Feb 2007 14:02 | Milan, Italy | | Report spam→
Dave, we should show the worst of times, I was just throwing a different opinion into the discussion….Personally, I’d take the pic, as long as it wasn’t an execution set up for press only…as sometimes happens…..
jsh

by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert | 09 Feb 2007 14:02 (ed. Feb 9 2007) | Tokyo, Japan | | Report spam→
There are many stories of executions being staged for the media, and if you cover it you will never known what would have happened if you weren’t there. Many photographers refused to take photos of similar scenes, and I’m against every execution but even more against public ones.

An example: if I was invited to shoot Saddam’s execution, I would have refused even knowing that he would be executed anyway…

by Alexandre Vaz | 09 Feb 2007 18:02 | Lisbon, Portugal | | Report spam→
http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0309/lm12.html

by Paul Rigas | 09 Feb 2007 18:02 | Grants Pass, Oregon USA, United States | | Report spam→
I don’t mean to be confrontational, but I’m unaware of any of these stories of executions “staged for the media,” as in they would not have happened if the media had not been there. Can you recount a few of them? There have of course been plenty of public executions, but that is far from the same thing.

Apart from that, I suppose we shouldn’t cover any story because then we won’t know what would have happened if we had been there. That argument is kind of difficult to swallow. I can’t quite imagine a letter from the NYT editor to the readers saying sorry, we decided not to cover the Iraq war for fear of discovering what would happen if we’re there.

Not photographing a summary execution—especially if you are against such things—is tacit absolution of the act. I can’t believe I’m having to explain to journalists why it’s important to document such controversial things, whether you believe in their legitimacy or not.

by Dave Yoder | 09 Feb 2007 19:02 | Milan, Italy | | Report spam→
Too much handwringing. If you shoot the photo, you have options regarding what to do with it. If you don’t shoot the photo, you have nothing — and the guy is still dead.

by [former member] | 09 Feb 2007 19:02 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
it’s funny how people are shocked by images, instead of being shocked that such event took place at all…i.e when abu ghraib images came out Bush & Co. stated that they were “shocked by those photographs” instead of being shocked what their soldiers were doing….having said that ever since late eddie adams took infamous photo of VC suspect being executed the dark side of photography is great subject to contemplate…beside magic power of photography there is also demonizing power we have to contemplate…that’s when boys with toys/guns pose, that’s when the red cross/crescent guys show dead boddies, that’s when US army “staged” landing in Somalia…The picture you’re refering too is crap,but every now and then you get medal for being brave…hell there are quite a few photographers who made their carier on the fact that they risked their life in some godforsaken place…

by Ziyah Gafic | 09 Feb 2007 19:02 | sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina | | Report spam→
i wouldn’t ask why this pic was shot, i would ask why did they decide to choose it out of 50.000 images or whatever the number of submissions might have been this year; death seems to be very atractive lately (see also the dead child in front of all those cameras). are we making a mokery of all that ‘news’ means today? then i can understand what they meant by awarding it

by G. Muj | 09 Feb 2007 19:02 | Dubai, United Arab Emirates | | Report spam→
well, i think first you take the photo, then you think if you should publish it or not. but that is also dangerous, because there’re staged executions, people stage all kinds of things to the media, and off course, executions also. for me there’s no rule, it’s up to the photographer to decide. i can sense when people’re doing something just because i’m there or not, so i would use that sense to know if i should photograph or not. for me there’s no absolute truth regarding this, and many other things…

by [former member] | 09 Feb 2007 20:02 | Lisboa, Portugal | | Report spam→
Dave, I haven’t said that there were executions that only took place because there were journalists present, what I said is that sometimes the presence of journalists may influence the course of the events.

That said, I don’t think that journalists in general and photographers in particular should turn their backs to this tragics events, I just think that it´s very important to act with high sense of responsibility and respect.

I don’t remember who it was, but I believe when Jean-Marc Bouju made those images of the Ethiopia execution:
http://pix.cl/wpp/jean/index.htm
there were some other photographers present that refused to shoot the scene, and even Mark recognized that in a sense the execution was a statement for the press.

by Alexandre Vaz | 09 Feb 2007 20:02 | Lisbon, Portugal | | Report spam→
This picture brings to mind that picture from Iran that won a Pulitzer anonymously so many years ago and the photographer was just tracked down. Hence, it’s certainly not the first time a picture of this nature won an award, and probably not the last. The point about executions staged for the media is a strong one but I think all we can do as journalists is trust our judgment.

by Brendan Hoffman | 10 Feb 2007 00:02 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
hell yeah I would shoot that so

my opinion is HELL YEAH i would shoot that snitch. i would pull the fucking trigger in that situation. I would shoot that rat, BUT only bad thing about this thing is that the composition of this picture just sucks ass. in these kinds of situations i usually shoot with tmax and wait before the light is perfect. my dig usually sucks when people die in front of me (can’t concentrate into how i compose the picture). usually when i take pictures of dead people with my dig they become muddy as hell (even if i use photoshop) (never been in hell so i don’t know if it’s muddy in there also). so when i make photojournalistic series about people dying i use only, Only Tmax, but that’s just my style. so i was just wondering if any of you guys could give me some tips about your style in these kinds of situations. what do you do/use when you take pictures of people, or even children dying?? keep taking photos! you know. keep burning that Tmax!

by Jukka Onnela | 10 Feb 2007 02:02 (ed. Feb 10 2007) | Helsinki, Finland | | Report spam→
Jukka, do you really think that’s what we’re talking about here? the discussion here is ethic, not technic.

by [former member] | 10 Feb 2007 02:02 | Lisboa, Portugal | | Report spam→
miguel it is called irony, not technic. He’s funnin you.

by Jon Anderson | 10 Feb 2007 02:02 | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic | | Report spam→
i know Jukka is being ironic, but i don’t think he’s trying to be funny… because i don’t think he likes to play with such serious things. anyway, what i ment Jukka, we’re not being frivolous, because i think that is your real concern,,, but anyway, maybe i’m just not thinking right, it’s 5 in the morning here…cheers to all

by [former member] | 10 Feb 2007 04:02 | Lisboa, Portugal | | Report spam→
I think the truth must be documented but I think there are higher values such as human dignity.
Where is the human dignity in killing each other? Things like this should be shown. People are already numb enough…
In my humble opinion, being able to discus matters like this is proof of cherishing “higher” values like human dignity…

by Guido Van Damme | 10 Feb 2007 09:02 | Lokeren, Belgium | | Report spam→
Jean Marc Bijou’s pictures where taken in Kinshasa and as far I I know there where other at least 2 photographers present and yes, they did take photos, but Jean Marcs where the standout………

by [former member] | 10 Feb 2007 10:02 | Dakar, Senegal | | Report spam→
Some executions are performed in order to gain recognition for a cause and so photographers and journalists may well have influence people’s actions in the past, but in today’s world those perpetrating such acts are clued up enough to film it and distribute it themselves! They don’t need the media anymore.

In the case of this image, as I understand it they shot they guy because they thought he was a collaborator, I doubt that the camera made any difference at all. If they thought he was a collaborator then he was a ‘dead man walking’, it was only a matter of time.

by Nicola J Cutts | 10 Feb 2007 11:02 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Jukka, If you’re trying to be funny, I think your joke is to say the least, very inappropriate. But I guess we (fortunately) come from different planets so from now on I will refrain from discussing with you.

Many of you said you’d take to photo, because the world needs to know what’s going on. But wouldn’t we know what is going on if we wouldn’t see this images? What about the respect for the victims and their families? Do we need to watch children being molested to thing about pedophiles or do we need to watch an entire family with their brains spilling from their hears to know how many die everyday on the roads of civilized modern countries?
I’m not sure about you, but that’s not the way I see my craft… does the word subtlety still make any sense in this world?

by Alexandre Vaz | 10 Feb 2007 22:02 (ed. Feb 10 2007) | Lisbon, Portugal | | Report spam→
I don´t believe that this image stops any violence! I´m rather afraid that there are a lot of violent people who might copy it.

by Ruediger Carl Bergmann | 10 Feb 2007 22:02 | Augsburg, Germany | | Report spam→
Shock-horror-sites will make sure that this image never dies – it will never be forgotten. Despite that fact I’m glad someone took that picture. Why should photography of murder be cencored? Who has the authority to make that call? Pentagon, Israel Defence Forces (IDF), or the Palestinian Authority (PA)? No-one should ever die in vain. If I was about to die at by hands of some ordinary guy, by the state, or by random street violence – I would like for someone to why, when, and for what I died.

The big mistake that the Israelis make nowadays is not allowing journalists access. They have this paranoia about the press, which means that most of us work on the Palestinian side, and then the Israelis complain that our coverage is biased. Of course it is. If I see a kid getting shot by an Israeli paratrooper, it’s a good story, but it’s not the real story. It is true that he got shot, but who sent him, and why? That’s the real story.
- Patrick Chauvel, citation from Shooting under fire. The world of the war photographer (Peter Howe (ed.), 2002)."

by Sivert Almvik | 10 Feb 2007 23:02 | Trondheim, Norway | | Report spam→
Alexandre,

You’re not obliged to take photos like that. You can practice subtlety to your heart’s content. And to be sure your sensibilities are not offended by such thing, avoid media that portray the world as it is.

To answer your question, yes, we wouldn’t know what’s going on if we didn’t see these images. And I’m not sure why you think the victim would have somehow been the recipient of respect had a photographer not been there.

I’m curious, do you not think the world is a better place because we have photographs of the victims of the holocaust as evidence? There certainly was no dignity or subtlety in those photos. But then, the preservation of dignity and subtlety are hardly the most important objectives, most of the time.

by Dave Yoder | 11 Feb 2007 11:02 | Milan, Italy | | Report spam→
Dave, I didn’t censored anyone nor criticized this photographer in particular for taking this photo. I just said I wouldn’t do it, and asked if you would.
I don’t think that what I said implies that I’m offended and that I only want to watch an artificial (pink) truth.
There are many things in this world that I’m not interested in photograph, and I don’t see what’s wrong with that.
What surprises me the most is to see how narrow minded many of my fellow LS colleagues are. I never thought this craft could seduce such people…

by Alexandre Vaz | 11 Feb 2007 12:02 | Lisbon, Portugal | | Report spam→
guys, there’s no need to take this to a personnal level, myself sometimes react to emotionally and have said things that perhpas i shouldn’t, but we all have to earn if we can discuss this and any other matter. if we had all the same opinions than posts like this wouldn’t make any sense. so please, let us continue this without getting offended or offending someone. my best to all,

by [former member] | 11 Feb 2007 13:02 | Lisboa, Portugal | | Report spam→
Not taking the picture we would decide for the public about what they should know. It’s up to the viewer to like or deslike what they see. But if we censor ourselves they loose this right. In the case of the picture we are duscussing the image tells a lot about how the state works in Palestine. It’s important that people know it. If they like, deslike, agree, get shocked, think it’s propaganda is not up to the photographer to decide. We’re there to inform. And the picture does that. And even if the execution was done for the cameras, the guy would propably be killed anyway, maybe if the cameras weren’t there they wouldn’t have the trouble of dragging him to the middle of the street. But that’s unlikely, since the main targets of the message they wanted to pass were other possible snitches in the neigborhood.

by Andre Vieira | 11 Feb 2007 14:02 | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | | Report spam→
Alexandre,

But you were implying that to take the photo would be an offence to the dignity of the victims. I am asking, what dignity are you referring to, in such a situation? And why is that more important than documenting and exposing a crime? Doesn’t evoking such ambiguous social mores simply allow bad things to keep happening?

by Dave Yoder | 11 Feb 2007 21:02 (ed. Feb 11 2007) | Milan, Italy | | Report spam→
LIFE Magazine/ 100 Photos that Changed the World

Eddie Adams, Execution of a Viet Cong Guerrilla 1968

With North Vietnam’s Tet Offensive beginning, Nguyen Ngoc Loan, South Vietnam’s national police chief, was doing all he could to keep Viet Cong guerrillas from Saigon. As Loan executed a prisoner who was said to be a Viet Cong captain, AP photographer Eddie Adams opened the shutter. Adams won a Pulitzer Prize for a picture that, as much as any, turned public opinion against the war. Adams felt that many misinterpreted the scene, and when told in 1998 that the immigrant Loan had died of cancer at his home in Burke, Va., he said, “The guy was a hero. America should be crying. I just hate to see him go this way, without people knowing anything about him.”

by Gayle Hegland | 12 Feb 2007 14:02 (ed. Feb 12 2007) | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
LIFE Magazine/ 100 Photos that Changed the World

George Strock, Dead on the Beach 1943

When LIFE ran this stark, haunting photograph of a beach in Papua New Guinea on September 20, 1943, the magazine felt compelled to ask in an adjacent full-page editorial, “Why print this picture, anyway, of three American boys dead upon an alien shore?” Among the reasons: “words are never enough . . . words do not exist to make us see, or know, or feel what it is like, what actually happens.” But there was more to it than that; LIFE was actually publishing in concert with government wishes. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was convinced that Americans had grown too complacent about the war, so he lifted the ban on images depicting U.S. casualties. Strock’s picture and others that followed in LIFE and elsewhere had the desired effect. The public, shocked by combat’s grim realities, was instilled with yet greater resolve to win the war.

by Gayle Hegland | 12 Feb 2007 14:02 (ed. Feb 12 2007) | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
LIFE Magazine/ 100 Photos that Changed the World

Bettmann/Corbis, Lynching 1930

A mob of 10,000 whites took sledgehammers to the county jailhouse doors to get at these two young blacks accused of raping a white girl; the girl’s uncle saved the life of a third by proclaiming the man’s innocence. Although this was Marion, Ind., most of the nearly 5,000 lynchings documented between Reconstruction and the late 1960s were perpetrated in the South. (Hangings, beatings and mutilations were called the sentence of “Judge Lynch.”) Some lynching photos were made into postcards designed to boost white supremacy, but the tortured bodies and grotesquely happy crowds ended up revolting as many as they scared. Today the images remind us that we have not come as far from barbarity as we’d like to think.

by Gayle Hegland | 12 Feb 2007 14:02 (ed. Feb 12 2007) | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
i don’t know if that photograph changed the world.it did change one thing though.it ensured the american,and other,governments and military
would never again aid unrestricted reporting from within a war zone.

by Michael Bowring | 12 Feb 2007 14:02 | Belgrade, Serbia | | Report spam→
I agree Michael. Also, often we do not know until years after the fact.

Perhaps I and the public are becoming too jaded, but the photo Alexandre cites, unfortunately, I don’t believe will change the world in it’s overall content and context. And maybe that is just as shocking, that it may be too commonly seen and done to register empathy with the victim. Does anyone know what papers it was shown in?

by Gayle Hegland | 12 Feb 2007 15:02 (ed. Feb 13 2007) | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
I don’t know why people keep quoting Eddie Adams’ execution photo??? This was not the first nor the last of this images, the history of photojournalism (and the history of war) is full of them. But those it make it better?

Unlike Andre, I think we need to make choices, because otherwise we could count on robot spy cameras to tell the news. There are many ways to tell the truth and I don’t think we should censor ourselves, but there are many ways of showing the horrors and violence of war without the need showing certain shocking images.

Dave, I think there are moments in life (like death) that are so intimate that should be kept private, but sometimes I agree that the truth must be exposed and the images reveled. That’s why I wouldn’t have a rule of never taking photos of someone dying or being killed, but I think we must judge carefully if ti’s worth showing (and taking) certain images.
Three years ago in Perpignan I talked with Noel Quidu (who took this famous image http://www.photopixel.com/magazine/agenda/103899/img/upload/Quidu-Liberia2003_021.jpg) and two years ago with Heidi Bradner http://www.heidibradner.com/galleries/chechnyacolor/pages/07-Groznycat.html about this subject.
We live in the age of the “Wow” factor anything that doesn’t feel like a “punch in the face” seems to week to prevail, but I do prefer sometimes less immediate (shallow) approaches than that.
For me, some of the most violent photo essays in the history of photojournalism, that portray some of the most violent events of all times don’t need to show either blood or dead people.

If you guys don’t understand what I’m saying I don’t know to explain better…

by Alexandre Vaz | 12 Feb 2007 15:02 | Lisbon, Portugal | | Report spam→
Alexandre, if one can’t see the relationship in the genre (which is brutal by nature) then, no, I don’t understand what you are talking about. It is up to the audience to judge the social norms, to interpret and make a decision regarding the image.

Sure, one can decide what to shoot and what not to shoot, what to publish and what not to publish according to their readership, otherwise, to try to artificially set social morays by predetermining what can, cannot, should not, how not or how should be recorded teeters on the slippery slope of propaganda and censorship.

by Gayle Hegland | 12 Feb 2007 15:02 (ed. Feb 12 2007) | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
Alexandre,

Well, then we agree on the central issue. I thought you were sounding a bit more extreme and absolute earlier. I’m certainly not saying all such photos should be shot or published, but I’m not convinced that you can succeed at conveying the horrors of war through suggestion alone, without showing the horrors of war, if that is the task at hand.

Gayle, excellent story on the president… oh for the days when the political wing didn’t run the administration…

by Dave Yoder | 12 Feb 2007 15:02 | Milan, Italy | | Report spam→
Isn’t that the truth, Dave.

And I agree, I prefer Alfred Hitchcock because he is a lot classier and has won significant awards over Rob Zombie, but they are both still directors, producers and image manipulators, not photojournalists.

by Gayle Hegland | 12 Feb 2007 15:02 (ed. Feb 12 2007) | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
Don’t be discouraged, Alexandre, that particular photo didn’t win first prize, this hauntingly beautiful one did…

Akintunde Akinleye, Nigeria, Reuters

Man rinses his face after gas pipeline explosion, Nigeria, 26 December

So, we can expect to see one of your humanist photos in first place, as well, some year soon, OK? (:


As far as a healthy society goes photojournalists, editors and publishers can gauge just how healthy their society is by using this simple algebriac formula when confronted with exposing brutal reality:

-x(-x)=x

A negative (photo of atrocity) times a negative (audience appalled reaction, not of photojournalist for shooting, rather at atrocity itself recorded) equals a positive (corrections in society made to eliminate high chance of similar atrocity occurring again).

If this formula does not work in your society then you exist in a parallel and opposite universe (like the KKK) from a healthy, normal and well balanced one.

by Gayle Hegland | 12 Feb 2007 16:02 (ed. Feb 13 2007) | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
Gayle, I think my maths and my english are not good enough to properly understand you’re formula, but even so, I must say that if even in physics I don’t trust much formulas, in here I find it even more suspiciouse…
Any how, from you’re point of view, and if I got you’re point, looking at you’re Portfolio, I must guess that you live in a pretty healthy and well balanced universe. Lucky you…

by Alexandre Vaz | 12 Feb 2007 18:02 | Lisbon, Portugal | | Report spam→
hallo dave,
I’m not sure that the world became better because we see some photos of atrocity.
sure i thing that mostly of us, the photographer believe that if we show what is going
on these will change the world in a better world.
but is realy so? or the human beens are not
more animal than the animal?
and if we are can we change something with a couple of photos the negativ from what you talk gayle?
i think we are little bit naiv if we do.
then there is another question, what can we do?

by [former member] | 12 Feb 2007 22:02 | Berlin, Germany | | Report spam→
I am an Editorial Illustrator, Alexandre, and I’ve never shown you my editorial portfolio. But, yes, “lucky me”, I was raised to NOT embrace the agenda and morays of the KKK and as an adult I am still very content with my upbringing and consequent belief system.

If you didn’t understand my formula point, please allow me to give you a different version: if in a classroom of your peers, you are shown the photo of the lynched blacks and the ugly, jeering crowd that surrounds them and most of the people in the room get physically ill then, yes, you live in a “normal” society. If the class stands up, salutes and shouts, “Heil Hitler” then you need to start questioning who your colleagues or peers are and what kind of values do they have to make them respond like that.

Getting back to your original question, Alexandre, yes, back when I was a PJ, for a short time, if I had been there, I would have shot that photo and the lynching photo and my family would be proud that I had had the courage to show the world the atrocity.

by Gayle Hegland | 12 Feb 2007 23:02 (ed. Feb 13 2007) | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
just to say i’m very glad to see such a discussion here, although i wish that it didn’t had to take place ( if the world was less unfair), i think it’s very important for us has human beings and PJ to reflect on such issues. not just “shoot it”, thank you all,

by [former member] | 12 Feb 2007 23:02 | Lisboa, Portugal | | Report spam→
Yes, I agree, a very good and interesting post, Alexandre. Thank you for presenting the question.

by Gayle Hegland | 13 Feb 2007 00:02 | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
Standing in my kitchen cooking my dinner, it seems really easy to say that I would take that photograph. However, I do hope that I would have the courage to photograph something that tragic.
tim

by Tim Hodge | 13 Feb 2007 00:02 | South Carolina, United States | | Report spam→
So do I, Tim.

It takes a special kind of adrenaline pumped objective courage unless, of course, you have crossed over and joined that parallel opposite universe where this type of photograph is passed casually around as a memento reminiscent of Abu Ghraib and celebrated after the bodies have been mutilated and dragged naked through the streets. Particularly being extremely visual people it would take a horrible toll on your senses even when you believe that what you are doing will help society stay informed in order to make educated and appropriate decisions or changes that can help to allow life and humanity return with dignity to a region gone mad from stolen, raped, lost and murdered souls.

I do not take lightly nor do I look away from these types of images. They are seared into my mind like the films of surreal heaps of concentration camp victims being bulldozed into mass graves after liberation. They are the visions and records of hell similar to

Goya’s Disasters of War and

Käthe Kollwitz’ Rape

This genre of brutal, yet anti-war images need to be taken, treated and published in proper context and with the utmost sober care and respect like a crime scene or a death portrait or mask of a admired or loved one. If not then as discussed in previous posts it loses it’s value as either a generational retelling or warning of the madness war brings us or fails to serve as a shocking reminder of past inhumanities tolerated.

Not everyone can or should do it, and that is why I most usually support or try to understand the PJ’s intention or temperment thrown into alarming circumstances such as these. I believe in this approach rather than encourage remorse and bad memories on them as was done to gifted Photojournalist Kevin Carter. Unless the recorder is an actual accomplice to perpetrating and propagandizing the atrocity like the enthusiatic record keeping Nazi of WWII or the KKK postcard equivalent of a head on the stake at either end of London’s Tower Bridge, then no guilt I believe should be cloaked on the messenger.

We thank Alexandre because he has given us the opportunity here to engage in serious discussion because his professional sensibilities called this difficult subject into focus at this time. It is responsible of us as a concerned worldwide audience made up of different media professionals to examine the history and nature of this genre and consider it’s relative significance and perceived impact in it’s own time. No matter how often we are confronted with a variation of this brutal theme it is healthy that we should think about and discuss it’s individual present day merit and societal value. Also, we have a chance respectfully to explore and learn about each other’s cultures and what place this historical genre has held in our different worlds.

I think most of us agree on at least one thing here, that the subject that is recorded in this image is extremely disturbing to the average and “mentally stable” viewer. I personally believe that because of this if used in it’s proper context, with great care and with readership consideration it would be interpreted as an anti-war message to most.

Aesthetically speaking, is it a great image that could change the world? Mmmm… I don’t believe so, but to me, it reminds me of those images that did. Metaphorically speaking, I think this image struggles to grow and transcend time but still remains small in the enormous shadow cast by The Learning Tree of greats like
Gordon Parks.

I am not completely certain, of course, but perhaps this is what Alexandre is talking about.

by Gayle Hegland | 13 Feb 2007 05:02 (ed. Feb 13 2007) | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
I agree with Dave: a larger number of summary executions have probably been prevented by the presence of cameras than caused by them. You take the photo, that’s why you’re there in the first place, to document the reality. The fact that someone can be executed in the street merely because he is ‘suspected’ of being a collaborator is indicative of the brutal nature of war, and it gives value to the image. Yeah, it’s shocking, but it is also something very true and real. Something readers need to see. If you don’t take the photo, you’re not doing your job. Asthetically speaking, sure, it’s not a great image, but it’s in the spot news category where judges sometimes seem to focus a bit less on the quality of the image and more on the substance.

by [former member] | 13 Feb 2007 06:02 | Bangkok, Thailand | | Report spam→
It is errant and misses the point to talk about one photo that is supposed to change the world. Arguably, it has never happened—or, it happens all the time, depending on degree. But there are many examples of, collectively, photographs changing big issues from bad to better. It is enough that a photographer contributes to the coverage of an issue. We are better off for having images of the holocaust, otherwise the revisionists would much more easily be able to deny that it happened, and it’s arguable that the West would have let the genocide taking place in Kosovo to continue had there been no memories of such images (if only Rwanda had been of such great concern). Images brought the Vietnam war to an end, and have caused or increased intervention in many humanitarian crises, from drought to famine to earthquake to Tsunami. But these things were all the results of contributions by many photographers, to an accumulated effect. That single execution photo may not change anything on its own, but it is adding to the clamour that something needs to be done. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect more out of a photo.

by Dave Yoder | 13 Feb 2007 10:02 (ed. Feb 13 2007) | Milan, Italy | | Report spam→
Have you guys seen this image?
http://jornal.publico.clix.pt/fotos2.asp?id=36174
I think is a very dramatic image that conveys the violence and tragedy of the situation probably with much more effectiveness than another one with an eviscerated body…

by Alexandre Vaz | 13 Feb 2007 12:02 | Lisbon, Portugal | | Report spam→
It is self consconscious and grandiose to expect one photo to change the world considering all the great ones made and the world is still a huge mess.

And what you say above, Dave, reminds me of the classic Frank Capra film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” What appears to be an ordinary existence easily dismissed, has through layering simple but honest acts contributed as a whole a remarkable and significant difference to it’s society, that if never born would be a devastating loss yet never be realized as such.

If the photo is never born through capture it has no chance of contributing to a layer of information and no benefits can be gleaned by a responsible society from it’s recorded knowledge.

The life that a photo takes on after released is even more mysterious to me than the thankless job of risking one’s life to report an event, to convey or empathize information to a society that so often prefers to wear blinders so as to not be distracted from the beauty of empty composition.


Great photojournalist images do not self consciously call attention to the elements of their formal composition first and the humanity of their subjects second. If they do then the image would be considered obscenely decorative and offensively mannered to the average newspaper reader who is looking for information that they can visually interpret and gain knowledge from through identification either contextually or symbolically. It is a clear universal identification with a symbol of humanity often in direct contrast to one of inhumanity that makes for a “great” and valued image. Blood and gore carefully composed for shock value or manipulation may outrage us but it does not endure the test of ages. It does not speak to our hearts or our minds.

by Gayle Hegland | 13 Feb 2007 13:02 (ed. Feb 13 2007) | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
Have you guys seen this image? http://jornal.publico.clix.pt/fotos2.asp?id=36174 I think is a very dramatic image that conveys the violence and tragedy of the situation probably with much more effectiveness than another one with an eviscerated body…

Sorry, Alexandre, but I have tried my best url hacking skills, but can’t pull that link up even though I am registered and logged on…

What day is the image from and for what article?, maybe I could find it that way?

Thanks!

by Gayle Hegland | 13 Feb 2007 20:02 (ed. Feb 13 2007) | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
Alexandre, the link didn’t seem to lead to a photo. Could you just copy and paste it here?

Regardless, I’m sure there are lots of images out there that could “convey the violence and tragedy of the situation” just as well if not more effectively than the image currently in question, but if you were going to lay down a bunch of images on a table and tell someone who knew nothing about the conflict, “Look at these images, this is what it is like,” then I think Mohammed Ballas’ photo would invariably belong on that table, again, regardless of aesthetics.

by [former member] | 14 Feb 2007 01:02 | Bangkok, Thailand | | Report spam→
How do I paste the image here? What’s the html code or whatever?

Timothy, photography and text are two different languages, and that is why you can right about the USA president or the queen of england having sex, but if you publish photos of them doing so you can be charged of violating their privacy.

by Alexandre Vaz | 14 Feb 2007 14:02 | Lisbon, Portugal | | Report spam→
If anyone had pictures of the US President and HM The Queen (she’s actually Head of State of the whole UK and 15 other Commonwealth countries, not just England) having sex I’m sure it would sell very well! Violation of privacy would depend on where they were having sex….but I doubt she would touch GW with a barge pole anyway! ; )

by Nicola J Cutts | 14 Feb 2007 14:02 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→


by Andrew Stanbridge | 14 Feb 2007 16:02 | boston, United States | | Report spam→
Thanks Andrew, but this was not the image I wanted to share…

by Alexandre Vaz | 14 Feb 2007 16:02 | Lisbon, Portugal | | Report spam→
when googling images for “public execution” I came across this which seemed appropriate to post.

it’s by Daniele Buetti

by Andrew Stanbridge | 14 Feb 2007 17:02 | boston, United States | | Report spam→
Alexandre,

If no one has told you yet, look immediately above and next to Reply and you can get the formatting information for posting images. When you find the image that you want to post just make certain after you right click under properties for the correct url, that jpg is the very last characters in the url before you copy and enclose it in exclamation marks. If you need to cut off some of the url to end in jpg that will still work.

See example below, oops, except don’t leave the spaces between the exclamation marks ! xox !

! http://www.yaddayaddayadda.jpeg !


Nicola, Weren’t the four images that I sent you of Bush and Condi in bed, bad enough? …lol

by Gayle Hegland | 14 Feb 2007 20:02 (ed. Feb 14 2007) | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
Thanks! So here is the image I was refering to in my previouse post.



by Alexandre Vaz | 15 Feb 2007 10:02 | Lisbon, Portugal | | Report spam→
Good, Alexandre, thanks for the comparison. So let me get this straight. You are comparing the Ceerwan Aziz photo above to the Mohammed Ballas’ photo of the execution?

by Gayle Hegland | 15 Feb 2007 17:02 | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
“Nicola, Weren’t the four images that I sent you of Bush and Condi in bed, bad enough? …lol”

Yuk, I feel really sick now! 8 (

by Nicola J Cutts | 15 Feb 2007 18:02 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Gayle, I’m not doing a direct comparison between the two images, but I think the image from Ceerwan Aziz is good example of hon an image can be very strong and convey the violence of war, without using such primary attributes such as “blood”…

by Alexandre Vaz | 16 Feb 2007 10:02 | Lisbon, Portugal | | Report spam→
Hi Alexandre,
Yes, I see and understand your argument now, but I have to be honest that in this particular instance I don’t agree other than with the fact that I’m encouraged to see it won third prize and not first. And yes, I agree that the Aziz photo is incredibly strong and as you say, a good example of capturing human dignity. And though I understand that you are not making a "direct comparison’, I believe it like an orange and the Ballas’ photo an apple.

The Ballas’ photo is a crime photo of an awful murder, true, and those two guys remind me also of the GI thugs that were caught on videotape executing that (I am assuming from memory) wounded Iraqi. That was a horrific and chilling video, as well, not only for the execution but I was very concerned for the welfare of the camera person when I realized that the poor person whose “body” they are trying to keep their camera focused on amidst the background atrocity is also still breathing…

Your point is well taken, though, Alexandre, as I agree with your premise. Thanks again for contributing the thoughtful and important topic for discussion.

by Gayle Hegland | 17 Feb 2007 00:02 (ed. Feb 17 2007) | Montana, United States | | Report spam→
I would shoot this one… Ask me way? Becouse of the same reasons – you would? And we both know it… becouse this is just discousion, Alex … And life is much diferent… Somtimes choice u have u make in a half second is the best one…

Michał Kulaziński (mike from PhouseLisbon)

by Michal Kulazinski | 21 Feb 2007 15:02 | Tychy, Poland | | Report spam→

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Participants

Alexandre Vaz, Photographer Alexandre Vaz
Photographer
Lisbon , Portugal ( LSB )
Allen Sullivan, Photo- and video-journali Allen Sullivan
Photo- and video-journali
Atlanta, Georgia , United States ( ATL )
Nicola J Cutts, Photography/Digital Nicola J Cutts
Photography/Digital
Sheffield , United Kingdom ( LBA )
Dave Yoder, Dave Yoder
Milan , Italy
Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, Freelance Photographer Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert
Freelance Photographer
Tokyo , Japan
Paul Rigas, Photographer Paul Rigas
Photographer
Cebu City , Philippines
Ziyah Gafic, Photographer Ziyah Gafic
Photographer
Sarajevo , Bosnia & Herzegovina
G. Muj, designer / ex photog / G. Muj
designer / ex photog /
Doha , Qatar
Brendan Hoffman, photographer Brendan Hoffman
photographer
(Prime)
New York, Ny , United States
Jukka Onnela, Photographer Jukka Onnela
Photographer
Helsinki , Finland
Jon Anderson, Photographer & Writer Jon Anderson
Photographer & Writer
Ocala Florida , United States
Guido Van Damme, Photographer Guido Van Damme
Photographer
Brussels , Belgium
Ruediger Carl Bergmann, Photographer / Artist Ruediger Carl Bergmann
Photographer / Artist
Augsburg , Germany ( MUC )
Sivert Almvik, Student Sivert Almvik
Student
Trondheim , Norway ( OSL )
Andre Vieira, Photographer Andre Vieira
Photographer
Rio De Janeiro , Brazil
Gayle Hegland, Editorial Artist Gayle Hegland
Editorial Artist
(IPA)
Montana , United States
Michael Bowring, photographer Michael Bowring
photographer
Belgrade , Serbia
Tim Hodge, Semi-Student/Full Photog Tim Hodge
Semi-Student/Full Photog
Conway, Sc , United States
Andrew Stanbridge, Photographer Andrew Stanbridge
Photographer
Addis Ababa , Ethiopia
Michal Kulazinski, Freelance Photographer Michal Kulazinski
Freelance Photographer
London , United Kingdom


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