Photography in War Zones

After seeing Rwanda in Photographs: Death Then, Life Now I decided to research into current and perhaps older photographers who have photographed war zones, or the aftermath of wars.

The first photographer who came to my mind was and Simon Norfolk who is well known for his photographs of Afghanistan.

After seeing his photographs and comparing them to those that I saw of Rwanda, I realised that his photographs still show that a war was happening but they don’t show the hopelessness or despair or convey as much emotion as those in the Rwanda exhibition.

Another photographer who I thought of is Don McCullin who has been photographing wars for many decades.

Don McCullin’s photographs convey a lot of emotion, I think. The way that he captures his subjects and portrays them doesn’t seem overly sympathetic or as though he felt sorry for them. I think that he was just photographing what he saw, without worrying about if the images would be too graphic or emotional to show people.
In a book about his photography, the author has written about war photography, “There are questions to be asked. Who caused what the picture shows? Who is responsible? Is it excusable? Was it inevitable?  Is there some state of affairs which we’ve accepted up to now that ought to be challenged?”(Delpire, R, Don McCullin, Thames & Hudson, 2007, 5-6). I think that McCullin’s photographs ask us all of these questions and make us think about what is happening in the world around us, in other countries.



The Equivalence of Suffering

Another review that I read was from the same issue of Source magazine (issue number 75).

The Equivalence of Suffering talks about a book and exhibition that chronicles ‘all significant photography of armed conflict and its aftermath from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries’. The book is called War/Photography and this title is because ‘it is a book about two very separate activities, but ones which have been drawn and bound together since the latter’s inception’.

I found this review very educational and interesting to read.  I thought that Jennifer Good’s writing was very engaging and it was a well balanced review. It made me want to see this exhibition or the book, and I think that that is what the author would have wanted.

War photography has never really been something that has interested me, because I find it a little bit wrong to look at photographs of people suffering and/or dying. However, in this review it talks about only one out of six sections in this book being devoted to fighting itself. Instead, it focuses on the other issues that surround war; the things that we don’t imagine soldiers doing.

I decided to do some research into war photography after reading this, in the hope that I would begin to understand the genre a bit more. I looked at work by Zoriah, Simon Norfolk and Don McCullin and began to slightly understand why people take photographs in conflict and war. It’s not about enjoying other people’s suffering or being unemotional about people dying – it’s about informing people about what is happening in the world, and a way of getting people to help if that is what is needed.