War Photography

The other day I was wandering around wondering where the great war photography had gone.  Back in the 1960’s Vietnam played host to more war photographers than you could shake a Leica at.  One of the best (and luckiest) was Tim Page. However, having lost the PR war, the American military tried very hard to restrict the access of journalists and photographers in recent conflict zones.  Until recently I hadn’t seen much in the way of still photography from Iraq. Today I came across a website featuring the work of  Christoph Bangert, and frankly, he suffers greatly by comparison to the work of Page et. al.  For various reasons it is difficult for photographers to apply Robert Capa’s dictum “Get close, then get closer”, so it is difficult to connect with photographs taken from inside an armoured personnel carrier as it drives rapidly through empty streets.  He does get some good images, but far too many are from five yards behind an american soldier.These days we seem to be fixated by the moving image, rather than the moving image, but I prefer a good still image because it forces you to look.  Film or video get restless, the cameraman or director want movement, and even when showing a pile of bodies will pan across the scene, which in my view, dilutes the horror.  And to a similar extent, colour does something similar.  Would those pictures taken at Belsen and Auschwitz have the same impact in technicolor or kodachrome? Spielberg certainly thought not and shot Schindlers List and Saving Private Ryan with a very muted pallet. Which is why this is the “perfect” war photograph.So, get out there, get close, then get closer. 

~ by @mmonyte on December 15, 2007.

One Response to “War Photography”

  1. Interesting thoughts…I never thought about that.

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