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Pictures that change the world

One of the greatest delights of being a keen photographer is not only being an enthusiast about taking photographs but also being enthusiastic about seeing other people’s work. There are many different genres of photography to explore in our quest for knowledge about all things photographic, so a little bit of discussion about the various different types might be in order.

The art of photojournalism appears to be an under-rated commodity in a world obsessed with celebrity. Yet how many times have we been intrigued and delighted by those spectacular images that seem to encapsulate the horror and joy of the events that surround us on a daily basis? While photojournalism can be loosely associated with anything from pure spot news occasions for newspapers, through to longer photo essays and documentaries for books, the inference is that it is a style of photography favoured by photographers who do in-depth reporting on serious issues.

Some of the best photographers in the world regard themselves as photojournalists and often the photographs they have taken have changed the course of history.  Some photographs have become iconic images of our time, most in some way depicting the human condition in all its beauty and savagery.

The seminal photograph by Joe Rosenthal of the raising of the American flag at Iwo Jima was referenced in a photograph taken by Thomas E. Franklin at the site of the events in New York, that stupefied us on the 11th Sept, 2001 and left us with a feeling of hope. The photograph by Nick Ut of Kim Phuc running away from napalm bombing in Vietnam appalled us and stirred us to action to protest the war. The photograph by Kevin Carter of a skeletal figure of a child huddled on the ground watched by a vulture in the famine stricken Ethiopia reminded us of own humanity and prompted the beginning of the ‘Live Aid’ movement. See these photos here:

Recently TIME Magazine has published an image that has sparked debate about the American military occupancy of Afghanistan in one of the most graphic fashions. You can follow the debate and see the cover photo here (WARNING: Some people might find the following image distressing),8599,2007269,00.html

Now while these photographs may be confronting to our senses, they have a wider context and a historic and significant place in our reading of current events. The importance of this style of photography is paramount to keeping the world’s values in order, as they act as a yardstick against which the actions that we take can be measured.

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