CLIO mr brice - page 38

Some have said that Carter spent
around twenty minutes composing
the perfect shot before scaring the
vulture away, others that the child
had briefly been left by her parents
whilst they collected food from a
food centre. Despite the ambiguity
around the image, the issues it raises
The after effects of Carter’s image
raise a very interesting topic
over the psychological effects on
photographers themselves. In 1994,
the year after the photograph was
taken, Kevin Carter committed
suicide, aged just 33. His suicide
note talked of being ‘haunted by
the vivid memories of killings and
corpses and anger and pain ... of
starving or wounded children’.
The mental wellbeing of
photographers can be deeply
affected by continually witnessing
and capturing the effects of conflicts
on innocent people. Psychologist
Antony Feinstein conducted a study
which found that those reporting
on war are five times more likely
than the general population to
suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress
Disorder and severe depression
and average alcohol consumption
was also notably higher. Conflict
photography has continuing
ramifications not just for those in
front of the lens, but also those
behind it, with photographers
and journalists often lacking the
help they need to deal with such
When the Carter’s photo was
published, many of those who
viewed it, shocked by what they
saw, demanded to know if Carter
had done anything to help the girl
and if not, why not. Such issues
raise complex, uncomfortable and
generally insoluble ethical questions
over the very nature of conflict
photography. Should Kevin Carter
have refrained from photographing
the child and helped her? Should
Eddie Adams have tried to intervene
when Nguyen Văn Lém was being
executed in front of him? Or are
photographers just ‘doing their job’?
Should cameras even be allowed in
conflict zones-is it not inhumane
to show a person in their last few
terrified moments of life? And is it
not cruel to continue to share such
images of suffering via social media?
Whilst such contentious issues
can never unanimously be solved,
they do demonstrate the power
of photography, in raising such
thought provoking questions, often
from a single image.
The topic of social media therefore
seems a natural note to end on. The
ubiquitous presence of it in our
everyday lives has now brought the
medium of conflict photography
into another dimension, by
increasing like never before both
the number of photographs shared
and the amount of people who
view them. It is believed that 29%
of the world’s population use social
media, and a staggering 1.8 billion
photographs uploaded to sites such
as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat,
Flickr and WhatApp daily. Due to
the conflicts which continue in the
world today, a great deal of powerful
images continue to result, with more
reaching and affecting people than
ever before, as the photograph of
Alan Kurdi demonstrated. However,
it is not just sobering photos which
are shared over social media. In
September, a photo emerged of a
Danish police officer playing a game
with a young Syrian girl. Photos
continue to show the compassion
which can emerge out of conflict,
and the ability to transcend any
false notions of division. The
instantaneous nature of the sharing
of such photographs-you may be
looking at an image taken only
a minute earlier-increases the
immediacy and impact of photos
more than ever.
The medium of photography is
powerful, persuasive and often
perturbing. From its use in conflicts
from WW1 right up to the present
day, it has had profound effects on
the way conflicts have been viewed
and the ways they have been reacted
to and remembered. Photography
has the power, with its immediacy
and rawness of emotion, to appeal
to us in a manner sometimes words
cannot, by communicating scenes
and emotions that may otherwise
remain incommunicable.
Fig 9. Vulture stalking its prey
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