Here is a fascinating video that explores how conflict photographers aren’t just witnesses’ to events but also in some circumstances, especially when operating in a pack, become actors in the violence they document.
The analysis starts two minutes in. There’s some typical examples of how photos are staged. What’s really disturbing is how some of the staged photographs of Palestinian men have come to define them as a group of people in so many of our minds.
The use of photography to create stereotypes is bad enough, but the use of staged photographs to strengthen those stereotypes is damaging. It’s a shame that the people at the World Press Awards are so toothless when it comes to engaging in this debate, refusing to adequately investigate when they award prizes to news photographs that have been staged.
Since aesthetic tends to rule over narrative skills in photography those that stage are likely to find more success and recognition as photojournalists. That’s why The World Press have stayed away from this subject because its such a can of worms.
I should add that I have no problem with staging, just in tricking the public into thinking we are looking at a real event as opposed to a piece of theatre which often tells us more about the skills of the photographer than the people in the pictures.
The video also explores just how much acting up for the cameras goes on. My own understanding of how the media can play an active role in conflict comes from my time in Kenya. In Kibera slum I was told by a radio journalist that the rioters there had became very media savy, calling journalists and waiting for the cameras to turn up before properly kicking off.
When you’re on a stage with a pack of newshounds willing you to perform the adrenaline starts to pump and its hard to say no. People get killed because of this. Nothing staged about that.
(via the excellent Petapixel)