or

It turned my stomach.

Is it really necessary? Maybe it is. It’s news afterall. It’s the machine many of us are a part of.

Tonight I just don’t know.

I do know that if something awful ever happened to me I would not want there to be photos; so my kids can remember me the way they want to.

BJP RESPONSE

Benjamin, this photo turned my stomach as well, and I didn’t take the decision to publish it lightly. I spoke with Reuters about it before doing so, asking them why they handed it out in the first place (I was told that they had a long internal debate before releasing it). They told me that they felt they had to publish this photo because it was part of the story, because this happened. It happened to someone we know and care about, which is why it makes me sick to see it. But, I personally believe that it tells the story of what should never have happened to Tim and Chris.

Now, I might be wrong.

In light of this, I’ve just modified the story to let people choose whether they want to see the image or not.

I won’t pretend that I know what is best for everyone far from it. Maybe I should have offered that choice right away, and will accept the criticism if so.

Olivier Laurent
News and Online Editor
British Journal of Photography

duckrabbit

Thanks for your response Olivier. I don’t think today is the right time for this debate so I won’t say much else.  It’s not lost on me that in part both Tim and Chris made a career in taking pictures like the one that troubled me. Here is a picture Chris took two days ago.  I believe that the child later died. It would be wrong if the photography of war became banal. I’m sure they would have approved.

duckrabbit is a production company formed by radio producer/journalist Benjamin Chesterton and photographer David White. We specialize in digital storytelling.

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  • Olivier Laurent

    Benjamin, this photo turned my stomach as well, and I didn’t take the decision to publish it lightly. I spoke with Reuters about it before doing so, asking them why they handed it out in the first place (I was told that they had a long internal debate before releasing it). They told me that they felt they had to publish this photo because it was part of the story, because this happened. It happened to someone we know and care about, which is why it makes me sick to see it. But, I personally believe that it tells the story of what should never have happened to Tim and Chris.

    Now, I might be wrong.

    In light of this, I’ve just modified the story to let people choose whether they want to see the image or not.

    I won’t pretend that I know what is best for everyone far from it. Maybe I should have offered that choice right away, and will accept the criticism if so.

    Olivier Laurent
    News and Online Editor
    British Journal of Photography

  • http://thetravelphotographer.blogspot.com/ tewfic el-sawy

    As I wrote on FB, my take on this is a simple one. If Chris had been the publishers’ son, brother, husband etc…would they have published it? No, they wouldn’t. What does it add? They say “it’s part of the story”…the usual canard when publishers want to sensationalize news. give me a break.

  • http://www.sojournposse.com Sojournposse

    Correction – BJP showed photos of TWO photographers bleeding to death. News just out, Hondros has died too. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/21/world/africa/21photographers.html

  • http://www.bitemagazine.net Diederik

    Ben, shouldn’t all victims of violence and the people who know them be treated according to your statement? Shouldn’t the respect you would want given to your family in the event something awful happened to you should be given to everybody, everwhere, always? Photographers, soldiers, Westerners, Libians, Afghans, Africans, everybody?

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      Hi Diederik,

      There is a balance to be struck. There are things I don’t like but accept there is a need sometimes to show them.

      I didn’t like the use of the photo. It felt inappropriate to me. But that was a personal opinion. It doesn’t mean I am right, or it was wrong to show it.

      You go to war and take the kinds of photos that Chris did and sadly there is always a chance that at some point you might become the story.

      • http://www.bitemagazine.net Diederik

        Hi Ben, I can’t help but thinking about Fred Ritchin’s thoughts about who can be shown wounded or dying ( http://www.photoq.nl/articles/nieuws/actueel/2011/03/24/wat-nu/ , article in Dutch, but video at bottom of post with Fred’s lecture in English)

        His thoughts are we typically portray the powerless that way, because it makes us feel more powerful. We saw many Haitian corpses after the quake, but not one Dutch corpse after the Tripoli aircraft crash that killed 80. So the debate on showing these pice or not may be happening because we are close to these casualties, and this is part of why we are shocked.

        I have no moral judgment on that, by the way. I simple feel that all the Libians who have died since this war started, and their friends and relatives, deserve equal respect.

        • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

          Hi Diederik,

          I agree with what you are saying. I’m not a fan of showing lots of graphic images full stop. On the whole I choose not to look at them. The photo, for me, felt out of place in an article that included a parents tribute to their son.

  • Carlos Vergara

    This Blog is more and more pathetic and hysterical. You don’t miss any chance to attack someone or “debate” – no matter the circumstances, the moment or the people involved. You’re attention whores. You’re vultures!!!
    Carlos

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      Carlos … I’m not sure which one of us sounds more hysterical? Perhaps you could point out how expressing a reaction to a picture makes someone a whore … on second thoughts, don’t bother, there are more important things in life.

  • a6ruled

    interesting – i’m not familiar with the existing debates around this issue so apologies in advance if i get the tone wrong. also i’m not part of this community so i guess this is an outsider view. anyway…

    the photo feels neither one thing or the other to me? it’s not particularly graphic, and without caption is close to anonymous, so as such it doesn’t seem gratuitous in itself but at the same time (because of that?) it seems to convey very little information?

    also, it doesn’t look very good? does that make a difference?

  • Mark

    I agree with Diederik and Fred Richtin’s thoughts. There is still so much “spectacle of the other” in the news/reportage, and especially in the way in which we consume and digest it. Things close to home are rarely treated in the same way as those that are far away, and to talk about being unbiased and truthful becomes something of a joke in the light of that. This is not so much the issue of the photographers, but of the editors/news organisations and very much the problem with the viewing public and how we react to issues depending on their closeness to ourselves.

    Should this photo be published? Absolutely yes. It shows the public the price that their “news” exacts. The passing of Tim and Chris is a sad loss to their family and friends and to the photographic world. Rightly we comfort ourselves and look back at their past work, but in doing so we shy away from the reality of their daily working lives that ultimately took the highest toll from them. This photo does not shy away from that.

    Your response to the photo is the right one, it should shock us, but that does not mean it should not be published. Unfortunately the many photos of the dead and dying are losing their impact because of their “emotional distance” from us and their ever pervasive presence. As I was once told in a lecture about the problem with news reporting, “We are living in a world saturated with ever increasing hard news images, it is fast becoming a Studium of Punctums.” Whilst the photo of Chris and Tim can be seen as adding to this, it could also be one of the few images that breaks out of the Studium and has an impact.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      Hi Mark,

      thanks for your comment which is very welcome. I would like to point out that I’ve never said that the picture should not be published, I was questioning the way its publication was handled.

      I disagree that people are not shocked by images of suffering. Is there any evidence of this? I think it’s wrong to focus on ‘the price that news extracts’. Many, many people lost their lives yesterday in the fighting. This should be the primary focus. The loss of Chris and Tim is a part of that story. They choose to cover the conflict and will have been aware of the risks, the civilians who have lost their lives did not.

      Obviously people will care more when they feel the image is of ‘one of our own’. I agree the media has created a sense of ‘the other’, something that I’ve commented on a lot from my experience living and working in Ethiopia.

      My personal opinion is that I would not run a picture of someone dieing alongside a tribute to them by their family. Their nationality or profession makes absolutely no difference to me in this.

      • Mark

        Ah fair enough, your twitter comment and original post did not make that so clear. Yes, the issue of tributes from family that does add a different slant it’s certainly not the type of photo you’d put up on an obituary…

        The numbing effects of war photography has been talked about for a long time, the writings of Susan Sontag are a good example of this. The more we are exposed to harsh images the more we develop a “thicker skin” to them or at worst, apathy.

        My reference to the price that news exacts was deliberate, as I know the daily cost in lives and trauma that these events have on those caught up in them and it was not my intention to sideline that; the public are somewhat oblivious however, to just how much their desire for news adds to that toll and what it actually “costs” for us to be able to sit and watch or read about these events.

  • MIkal W. Grass

    If a photographer can take a photo of a dying combatant or another photographer (Burma?), then they cannot and should not have any expectation of privacy when they are shot and bloody, or dying. Just because one person is fighting for his or her right to lead a life free from tyranny, and the other is paid to take photos of that fight, does not make them immune from being wounded or killed, nor should it, as a camera is not a magic shield that deflects bullets or bombs.

    As much as I applaud and appreciate Mr. Hondros’s work, he knew that he could be wounded or killed in the “fog of war.” If he can take pictures of the dead and dying to tell a story, then another photographer can take a picture of a bloodied Mr. Hondros. Just because Mr. Hondros is connected with a news outlet and has many who appreciate his work, does not make him any more important or better than the day laborer who lives in a hovel with his wife and 4 kids, and who is willing to die for freedom. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      Hi Mikal,

      thanks for your comment.

      Just because something can be shown, does not mean that it should.

      On the whole I think that hospitals should be places of privacy.

  • Mikal W. Grass

    Duckrabbit,

    I would like to apologize to you and your readers if I offended anyone, because in my haste to write my comment, I neglected to look at the photo, and had no idea it was taken in a hospital. I agree that hospitals should be places of privacy, and that even photos of injured, maimed, or dead soldiers, or of children who are “collateral damage”, should not be published. That said, generally, if one photographer can take the photos of the aforementioned injured, maimed, or dead soldiers or children in hospitals, then that photographer loses his or her right to privacy as well, regardless of how well loved or revered the photographer might be.

    This is a very sensitive subject, as matters of death and dying are wont to be. However, unless I am mistaken, death happens to everyone and everything. Life is a mystery, death even moreso. Yes, I feel awful for the photographers’ families, but you know, instead of pontificating on or debating the finer legal points of who is entitled to privacy and why, we should pay attention to how these fine men lead their lives, and maybe improve our own.

    • http://www.duckrabbit.info/members/duckrabbit/ duckrabbit

      HI Mikal,

      really no need to apologise. I appreciate your comments greatly. I’m sure no offense was meant or taken.

  • http://www.weareoca.com Gareth

    When I read this post in the immediate aftermath, the BJP decision (and one followed by the Daily Mail) felt wrong. Now I have changed my mind.

    The photograph is horrific, but as Sontag said ‘No Committee of Guardians is going to ration our exposure to the almost-unbearable-to-look-at…’ If such a Committee were to exist surely the rationing rule would have to be the same for North Africans, Europeans and Americans.