Tuesday, October 04, 2011

4-Oct-11: Both sides of the lens

Here's what Ruben Salvadori says about himself:
I'm an Italian student currently dual majoring in International Relations and Anthropology/Sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. I'm planning to get my MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography in 2011/12 at the London University of Arts, College of Communication, UK.
What brought this perceptive young man to our attention is a brief video that's online in various places (and now here, below) that thoughtfully examines the interplay between photographers and their subjects. In his words, it's "an auto-critical photo essay showing the paradoxes of conflict-image production and considering the role of the photographer in the events."

We've written often about the power of imagery in telling the stories of the complex Arab/Israel conflict. There's no lie greater than the old cliche "the camera never lies". In reality, the camera lies almost every time the shutter clicks. And when the photographer herself is animated by a political, activist agenda, the lies can be especially articulate.

Salvadori is not concerned with exposing lies. He takes no political or ideological position in his project. It's enough that he raises some important questions. We'd paraphrase it this way: Why are most people so unaware that photographers play a role in the news, and not only by reporting it? Their role is little noticed, rarely remarked upon or analyzed, and frequently manipulative. How dangerous is this?

Several of his images are below. Others can be seen at Ruben Salvadori Photography Blog – Open Your Eyes: Presenting Photojournalism Behind the Scenes.

He points out that the iconic imagery above of a young and (by obvious implication) angry Palestinian Arab is something of a co-production in which the assembled media professionals (below) are active and knowing collaborators.

Here's the action behind another iconic image: the child rock-thrower at the flaming barricades - Little David vs Zionist Goliath:

An especially evocative image below captures the reality that some (from our experience many, and some say most) of the media professionals capturing and marketing the imagery of Palestinian Arabs conducting a confrontation with Israeli society are themselves drawn from the same society. This picture below shows the videographer laying aside his tools of trade and praying alongside the subjects of his photography.

The video below includes some commentary by the young photographer himself.

A picture is worth a thousand words. And as with words, it's important to know something about the author and the circumstances and never to suspend one's critical faculties.

No comments: