Sunshine Blogger Award

Sunshine blogger award

I have been peer nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by Penchantress, She is one of my many Indian followers (yay). I follow her because I enjoy her writing style and enthusiasm, and she writes about society and sociology, but in a very gentle and personal way. She is an Indian woman who is stepping into her power in a country where this is not societally accepted to do so, and where woman still face extreme violence and oppression.

The Sunshine Blogger award is given by bloggers to bloggers who inspire positivity and creativity in the blogging community.

I would not particularly say that my blog inspires positivity or creativity, although I am creative and so is my blog. If it inspires some people then that’s an added bonus.

RULES (directions or guidance would be preferable)

  1. Thank blogger(s) who nominated you for the blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

(please note that if I have nominated you, you are under no obligation to complete the task – we all have time constraints, but personally I enjoy the task and I am aware that it does bring new followers, and lead me to follow others that I would not have come across.)

What is your Native language?(I’m really curious about this one!)

Rubbish – I talk rubbish fluently, and I speak it in English.

In what profession are you? If you are a student then, what is your field of study?

I’m a photography student.

Who is your favourite author and why?

J R R Tolkein. I have read The Lord of the Rings repeatedly since being a child. It has become a source of comfort, a place of safety and familiarity, and an escape from a world which I can find quite challenging.

What inspired you to start blogging?

I enrolled on Foundations in Photography with The Open College of the Arts. They offer distance leaning degrees and foundation courses within the field of the creative arts. They accept applications from adults from around the world. One of the requirements is to submit our coursework and assignments via a blog, and that’s the reason that I started to blog, however I also wanted to include poetry which I write from time to time, and photo essays that I write. I also include a gallery of photos that I take that are for my own enjoyment, which includes birds, nature, macro and events.

Do you publicize your Blog or Just use it as your personal space?

I publicise my blog. Although it is my student blog, I also use it to promote my photography, and I enjoy the connection with other photographers and poets.

Do you really read the blogs of the Bloggers you follow?

I follow 400 blogs, and for some reason over 200 bloggers follow me (which I find quite surprising). I read as many posts from the people who I follow as I can. Sometimes this is more than others, but I do enjoy reading other peoples blogs. I cannot learn something new by my own thoughts, learning is a mutual process of sharing and receiving.

What other hobbies do you indulge in?

I love to read. I read every day. It has become an important part of my daily routine, and that helps my mental health. Although I read a lot of novels, I also like factual books. I am currently reading “Enemies and Neighbours; Arabs and Jews in Palestine and Israel, 1917 – 2017” by Ian Black. If I don’t understand something then I like to find out, discover and explore.

Do you stand up for what’s right all the time even if it invites a lot of debate Or do you just go with the flow and try to stay safe?

My mental health is not great, and because of this I have to exercise caution when it comes to issues that would pre-occupy me or disturb me. I cannot afford to feel too angry nor self-righteous. These are both feelings that can be quite disturbing for me.

Who is the biggest inspiration in your life?

Rupert Spira. He teaches spirituality in the form of non-duality (there is no separate self, we are all simply experiences of infinite consciousness/awareness). The link I have attached is one of his YouTube clips that I watched yesterday.

Tell us one incident when you laughed your heart out while people thought you had gone mad.

My cousin and I have a connection that is very strange. There was one time that we were amongst a whole group of family members, and we both started to laugh at the same time. We had the exact same thoughts (about something not relating to the circumstances around us) and shared a joke via our minds. I love that connection.

Say, you’ve been through a really bad time, how crazy could you get to pick yourself up? (If you haven’t been through any, then you can talk about the craziest thing you’ve ever done in your life).

My craziness tends to be self-destructive and happens during the times when my mental health is poor. The picking myself up is the hard part, and that’s where the photography comes in. Photography has turned my life around. I wasnt capable of leaving the home 18 months ago due to anxiety and paranoia. I got to the point where I couldn’t cope any more. Having a camera got me to gradually be able to leave my home, has developed my mindfulness practice, and i now interact with people to a small degree.


Now its my time to nominate people

Studying with OCA (Sarah’s Blog)

Exposure Empire (Lightroom hints and Tips)

Crow on the Wire (Poetry and Pictures)

Thom Lang (Photography)

Jack Shalom (Thought to ponder and humour)

Twenty Four (Photography, Haiku, random facts and thoughts)

Terra Spectra (Thoughts and feelings from a leftwing, feminist)

J C Street (Street Photography)

The Lazy Goth (Feminist, photographer, photography model)

Your Personal Motivator (Uses the Human Design approach to living in a manner that makes the most out of you as an individual)

If I have nominated to you please be assured that you are under no obligation to complete the tasks as set out in the guidance. I have nominated you because I enjoy your blog. However if you do choose to accept the nomination and complete the task then I am giving you the same questions that I was set. Best Wishes

  1. What is your Native language?(I’m really curious about this one!)
  2. In what profession are you? If you are a student then, what is your field of study?
  3. Who is your favourite author and why?
  4. What inspired you to start blogging?
  5. Do you publicize your Blog or Just use it as your personal space?
  6. Do you really read the blogs of the Bloggers you follow?
  7. What other hobbies do you indulge in?
  8. Do you stand up for what’s right all the time even if it invites a lot of debate Or do you just go with the flow and try to stay safe?
  9. Who is the biggest inspiration in your life?
  10. Tell us one incident when you laughed your heart out while people thought you had gone mad.
  11. Say, you’ve been through a really bad time, how crazy could you get to pick yourself up? (If you haven’t been through any, then you can talk about the craziest thing you’ve ever done in your life).



The Liebster Award 2018


The Liebster award is a peer nominated way of discovering new blogs and bloggers, increasing traffic to your own and other bloggers sites, and potentially a marketing tool as well. I have been nominated by The Everyday Alternative (Janine). The everyday alternative is a gothic journalism student, with a fascinating taste in heavy rock and metal. She is gothic, it’s in her blood, it’s a significant part of who she is, and therefore lives the lifestyle, rather than being a “hobbyist”.

My blog has developed because of my study with The Open College of the Arts. I study photography online with them, and they ask students to set up a blog as a way of keeping track of coursework and to submit assignments. As well as making use of my blog for these purposes, I have a personal photo gallery and write some poems from time to time, with recovery from poor mental health featuring heavily.

I have an interest in people, sociology and society. If I find something that I would like to learn about, then I research and write photo essays, either alone or in collaboration with others, so there are a couple of photo essays on my site as well.

Anyhow, enough about me and more about The Leibster Award. After the Leibster rules I will answer the questions that The Everyday Alternative has set for me.

So for those who don’t know about the Liebster Award, here are the rules:

  1. Give some recognition and promotion to the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Create a post about the award on your blog.
  3. Give a reason you are passionate about blog posting.
  4. Answer the 10 questions you were asked.
  5. Nominate 5-11 other blogs.
  6. Inform those bloggers you nominated them.
  7. Make sure you put these rules on your post so everyone else knows what to do!

So here are the 10 questions I have been asked:

1. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?

I will not go to the one place in the world that I want to go to. The Galapagos Islands. I choose not to go because of the impact of tourism on the natural environment and wildlife. Carole Cadwalladr wrote an article for the Guardian about this in 2012. I would love to go, however I will stick to documentaries.

2. If you could visit a fantasy land from one of your favourite films, TV shows or books where would you pick?

Middle Earth from J.R.R.Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. I cannot say how many times I have read the books from being a youngster until the last time just under three years ago. It is a retreat, a place of safety in a crazy world.

What food do you crave most often?

Ummm… this changes so often. Chocolate, jam roly poly, Dime Bar cake (still frozen not thawed).

What job would you be absolutely terrible at?

I couldn’t work on the bins or down the sewers, massive respect to those of you that do, thank you for the service that you provide us.

What is your favourite ice cream flavour?

Lemon Curd. The CO-OP (UK supermarket) make their own brand. Its yummy.

What would you do in a zombie apocalypse?

Become a zombie (death would be an awfully big adventure). I can’t run, I get paranoid about my own reflection, I’m prone to anxiety, panic and tears. Lets face it – I am zombie meat.

What song would you pay money to never hear again?

I genuinely do not have an answer. I have an eclectic taste in music:-  House of the Rising Sun by Five Finger Death Punch (heavy metal), True Friends by Bring me the Horizon (Rock, Death Metal), Holy Driver by Killswitch Engage (metalcore), Beethoven VS Chemical Brothers – Symphony Number 5 VS Galvanise by DJ’s from Mars (Electrodance, mash), Dark and Long Train by Underworld (Electronic), Jump by Girls Aloud (girl group, pop), Walk This Way by Elle and the Pocket Belles (a capella), Potiphar by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice (musical theatre), The most haunting symphony that takes me on an emotional rollercoaster (if you want me to cry play the whole of this to me) Dvorak’s 9th “New world” symphony, played here by the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra (classical). I could go on forever.

Is there a quote you strive to live by?

Not a quote, but I do believe that we are all human, no matter where in the world we live, or what our gender, class, ethnicity, status, wealth, poverty – We are all human, from earth, deal with it and stop fighting, tear down the barricades that we all use to be special and different, to protect whats “mine”. It’s not “mine” it never has been, never will be, it’s all “ours”. Rant over. I also believe that we are all capable of making grave mistakes, of gettings things badly wrong, and being able to move beyond and back into our strengths.

Would you rather be able to fly or turn invisible?

Fly. I love birds. I could be a black basa, a yellow wagtail, a greater racket tailed drongo, a blue footed booby, an Indian Roller, an ostrich or a firecrest.

If you could ask your future self one question, what would it be?

Existentially there is no past or future. They are memories or dreams, either way they are imagined. They don’t exist. Quantum physics supports this, although I dont have the space to write about that. What is self? Is it what I think I am? what you think I am? Conditioning and memory? I believe that “Self” is a construct and also has no basis in reality. However, I will play the game. Too my future self – “How soon will it be before I am free to die?”


I have to make my nominations now and create 10 questions. Please be assured that you do not have to accept the award or answer the questions if you don’t want to.

My nominees are:-








Tanya Keane


Archna Singh

Your Questions – should you choose to accept them:-

1 – If you could walk in someone else’s shoes for the day, so that you could understand their outlook on life, who would it be and why?

2 – A genie grants you three wishes. What would you wish for?

3 – What does “mental well-being” mean to you?

4 – Name three things that happened today that you are grateful for?

5 – If you could achieve one important thing during the course of the year, that would make you proud, what would it be?

6 – You are granted a superpower (like batman, not the cold war), what do you choose?

7 – If you could be told the answer to any of your deepest questions, what question would you ask?

8 – Your given the ability to play a musical instrument fluently, what do you choose and why?

9 – If you had the time to write a book what would you write about?

10 – If a photon travels at the speed of light, and the laws of special relativity mean that time stops when travelling at the speed of light, how much time has passed for the photon, compared to the time since the big bang?

Whether you choose to accept this award or decline it, I know that you are amazing.

For more information about the Liebster Award, check the webpage here.

Need help?

Marcus is my favourite current street photographer, and he was recently voted 30th in wordpress’ most important street photography blogs. His Web site has a help Centre so that you can learn to improve your photography. He also welcomes questions and comments. Marcus travels around the world regularly with his job, and he makes great photography wherever he goes. There is always a story accompanying his photos. Well worth following.

Streets of Nuremberg

Calling for Help Calling for Help | Portland | 2017

Have you checked the tips and inspirations in my Learning Center? Are you looking for specific photography related advice? Anything out of the realms of Street- and travel photography you want me to write about? Let me know in the comments section!

Have a great Wednesday!


Related Posts:

Street Photography Quick Tip (6)

Finding your photographic style

Some thoughts on monochrome shooting

Instant Inspiration (11) – Change of Perspective

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Assignment Two – Final Photos

I love the photography and the accompanying poem for Chloes second assignment. In fact I find this to be incredible.


I keep re writing the process for Assignment Two, how I choose the images, what happened on the shoot but I realised that it was important to feature the assignment here without the words. I want the viewer to take their own meaning from the images without being swayed by any of my writing. Of course, I shall post the written work after this.

I’d appreciate any feedback. Thank you.

Here you can see the images in the form of a PhotoBook (medium resolution)

Walk with us Book Cover – Come Walk with Us

Assignment Two - One_edited-1 INSIDE COVER Come walk with us they whispered. Leave that dark place in your mind. Come walk with us they beckoned and leave the world behind


Assignment Two - Two They took me on a journey Winding round and round Each corner whispered mystery But answers were not found

Assignment Two - Three For every corner that I passed Another would surely wind There seemed…

View original post 249 more words

Exercise 1.12 Smash – Denis Darzacq


This exercise asks you to choose some suitable small objects that you can break! An old toy, some rotten fruit, a shirt or a balloon filled with water would all work well. The point here is to freeze a fast-moving object in an otherwise still location. You must get the object in sharp focus to reveal the detail of its disintegration and movement. Choose a suitable location where you won’t make too much mess. Aim to frame the object quite close, with the environment around it. You’ll need to frame the object in front of a background that helps to emphasise it visually: that could mean a complementary colour (e.g. red against green) or an opposite tone (light object against dark background or vice versa). Before you start, research the freeze-frame photographs of Denis Darzacq at Do an online search for Harold Edgerton’s experiments. These photographers give you images that would be impossible without the mechanism of the shutter.

Ensembles 1998-2001 – Initial thoughts – Random, candid, unplanned, lines, people in lines, lines on road, lines of railings. Appears to be non specific and non focused, but has frozen movement of all people in the frame, no blur, fast shutter, smaller aperture f11-f16 as a guess – no metadata to check against.

E006Fig 1

Lachute 2005 – 2006 – Initial thoughts, people, lines, frozen movement, staged, no candid, planned and purposeful capture of movement of people performing acrobatics. The freeze of the movement has an ethereal feel and makes people look like they are flying, floating. So the intense movement that’s required to perform the acts, becomes a moment of peace and tranquillity. The use of lines is similar to how an artist uses mark making, but he uses it in a manner that highlights uniformity, solidity, structure to provide a stillness as a counter balance to the movement that he captures.

Hyper 2007 – 2009 – Lines, people being shot (they are not but there movement makes it looks like they have suffered an impact. Completely frozen. Fast shutter speed. F7 or wider, blurred backgrounds, object in focus. Again staged and planned. There is a demonstrable progression in planning, technique and performance from earlier works. “Hyper opposes bodies in movement and the saturated, standardized space of mass distribution outlets. In this totally commercial setting, the body’s leap expresses the freedom and unhampered choice of its movement. It is a clear challenge to the marketing strategies which seek to control our behaviour. Some of the figures, glowing with an aura, impose glory and give off a sense of spirituality in total contrast with the temples of consumption in which they are found.” (Hatt; 2012) I do not see this in the series at all. I do not see unhampered movement or an aura of spirituality, I see forced movement as if the person is being shot, which is a very specific but uninhibited movement.

My view is partially agreed with by Amy Barrett-Lennard in lensculture “Not all these bodies are in calm repose, however. There are those caught as if in the aftermath of a violent act — a punch, a throw, a kick. Darzacq tells me that areas around Rouen have had a bad reputation for youth violence — and so here we see this played out quite dramatically, almost ballet-like in the clinical, normally “safe” environment of the hypermarket.” (Barrett-Lennard; 2008)

Hyper-07-72 2007Fig 2

Hyper 2010 – Lines as marks, bouncy castle, weightlessness, introduction of more vivid colours, fast shutter speed, continuous focus, continuous shooting. These were not captured as single shots. The position of the actors within their movement and jumping evidence this. It would have been impossible to time such perfect shots. I suspect that he took several hundred photos and then chose the best for the series.

HYPER-24 2010Fig 3

Act 2 – 2015 – Further development that shows how he has built upon previous work. He has included actors to perform so that he can freeze the movement in his own unique style, but got them to do so in public as street photography against the back drop of people getting on with their daily living.

Act2_07 2015Fig 4



Fig 1 Darzacq, Denis; 1998; Ensemble 06; Online at (accessed on 20/07/2017)

Fig 2 Darzacq, Denis; 2007; Hyper no 7; Online at

Fig 3 Darzacq, Denis; 2010; Hyper no 24; Online at

Fig 4 Darzac, Denis; 2015; Act 2 – 07 Mickael Lafon; Online at

Barrett-Lennard, Amy; 2008; Hyper – based upon remarks she made for the opening of exhibitions by Denis Darzacq at the Perth Centre for Photography, 5 April 2008.; Online in  at

Hatt, Etienne; 2012; Biographie de Denis Darzacq; Online in at (accessed on 20/07/2017)

Research Point – Diffused Light – Gabriele Basilico

Brief:- To prepare for the next exercise, look online at the cityscapes of Gabriele Basilico. Notice the smooth quality of light, the sense of space and the way architecture seems more like sculpture, with its shape and form emphasised. And look at the broad tonal range in Mike Walsh’s landscape below, which comes from the naturally occurring light and dark tones in the landscape.


I had a look through some of Basilico’s photography and it took me a while to get into. I have a resistance to black and white photography “if you can’t take photos then take them in black and white it will at least have mood”. It is not a helpful attitude to have, but I do think it is harder to work with light in colour photography then in black and white. I have not researched what other people think, I am aware there is a whole debate about black and white v colour, so I am prepared to be corrected.

However, after a while doing some research I found some photos that I really enjoyed. As one of the aims of the brief is to explore the tonal range then I have viewed the histograms in Photoshop and will show the images with the respective histogram.

Sanfransisco 2007

Basilico; 2007

The perspective and the angles are what catch my eye here. I like the view from above as it’s not one that I experience. I also like the levels of contrast between the highlights and the darks. This is definitely not an example of making a photograph in diffused lighting. The shadows and the highlights give this away. The histogram is interesting though. I would expect the peaks in the whites and blacks, but the tone throughout the rest of the image is smooth.

Basilico montecarlo with Histogram

Basilico; 2007a

Perspective, leading lines of roads, non flat horizon, cars – all create an interest due to the movement of the eye through the image. Then to learn the photo is of Monte Carlo, but it looks dirty. The photo was taken in 2005 or 2006. This throws up a mental challenge for me. Through my years of watching Formula 1 on TV, and knowing of the harbour, the casino I have come to believe that Monte Carlo is a place of beauty for the rich and famous. I have had to look really closely to explore the “dirt” – there does not appear to be too much grain, but on close viewing the focus is not clear from the mid-ground to background. This is a more neutral photo than San Fransisco.

Bor de Mer with histogram

Basilico; 1984

Crisp, journey, transition, ferry framed by dockside and by light of sky and reflection of sky in water. The sky shows that the photo was taken with cloud that may be slightly broken in some places but also diffused lighting. I have learned to see that reflections of objects in water always look as if the light is from above wherever it comes from. That may seem obvious to many, but I only became aware of this at the start of Foundations in Photography, when I started to look with my mind open. The histogram does not show a smooth tonal gradient, but that is to be expected with the white from the sky and the highlights in the water. However, I am going to ignore the histogram and say that what I see is a balanced image with blacks, shadows, mid-tones, whites and highlights. Additionally I have evoked memories of the ferry from childhood and that does have an impact upon me.

Sotto la pelle di beirut with histogram

Basilico; 1991

Even before the title I became aware that this is a photo of a war zone. Houses falling to pieces (blown apart), bullet holes, the possibility that the photo of the man is a missing person photos, and what appears to be a military vehicle further up the road (it isn’t, but its enough to add to the image of war). To me the broad and smooth tonal range of this photo is the most obvious out of the four. There is an ease to the eye because of the lighting, which is added to by the composition, where all of the leading lines point to the centre of the photo.


OK so I have only written up the research today and I have already completed the photos for the next exercise. However, I read through the course manual before starting on workflow, so I have been exploring lighting, time of day, contrast, cover, clouds, white balance and diffuse lighting from the start of the course. I prefer to shoot in bright sun with no cloud cover when making macro photography, but prefer broken cloud the rest of the time. Maybe I would enjoy shooting at sunrise or dusk, however I am never out doors at those times. I have a routine in the morning (health related) that means I am not out at sunrise anytime of the year, and you wont find me out at dusk at this time of year, too many drunk people, means too much anxiety. I did enjoy exercise 1.9 Soft Light Landscape (the results were not as enjoyable as the exercise), and I will publish that over the next few days.


Basilico Gabriele; 1984; Bord de Mer; in (accessed on 14/07/2017)

Basilico, Gabriele; 1991; Beirut 1991; in (accessed on 14/07/2017)

Basilico, Gabriele; 2007; San Fransisco; (accessed on 14/07/2017)

Basilico, Gabriele; 2007a; Basilico Montecarlo; Gabriele Basilico, Marco Belpoliti, Jean-Michel Bouhours; Arles; Actes Sud; in (accessed on 14/07/2017)


The Irrelevant Surrealism of Sontag

“As if only by looking at reality in the form of an object-through the fix of photography-is it really real, that is, surreal.” 1


Firstly I must confess that I find the above quote as surreal as Sontag finds photography. A quote written in a book critiquing photography that has no images. It appears that the author wishes to leave a visual image in the readers mind, through the frame of her values and ideology. Isn’t that what photography does with pictures?

I have really enjoyed this research trail and have a greater enthusiasm for photography, and have more insight into the production of photography.

With regard to research methodology, having enthusiasm, determination and desire are what matters. I am willing to go to galleries, to review and evaluate the work of photographers and other artists. I read every day, watch Youtube video and tutorials. All of which means that I will learn and I will develop in technique, understanding and creativity.

I have found a few techniques that I have learned through the Introduction to Higher Education module, and through trial and error, that will be necessary to study effectively.

ITEP map for planning research sources



Writing a brief assignment/essay plan


Use voice recordings when watching TV or video as a source

Write references as I go along and refer to OCA resources for OCA’s Harvard Referencing

When I have studied before I have used pen and paper for recording my notes and quotes, and then typed them up. This was the first time that I have used a computer as a method of recording and organising notes. I have found that on the whole it is easier, although I do get tired more quickly this way, and need to take more study breaks.

I have had consideration to my motives for making the photography that I enjoy, but this project has helped me to explore that even further. Having interview accounts from Benjamin Lowy and Sebastiao Salgado has been invaluable, as has On Photography. There are times that I have felt myself agreeing with Sontag and also those where I have disagreed, but she has pointed a spotlight upon the implications of and reactions to photography. More importantly than this though, she has guided me to be more considerate of what I am leaving in my lens, why I am leaving out the wider part of the scene, and how my ideology affects the photography that I make.

As for the debate about being an embedded or non embedded photographer? I believe that we are all embedded photographers. Salgado’s upbringing and politics affected his career and choices, as much as did Benjamin Lowy’s family situation and the recent deaths of his colleagues, as much as Abdul-Ahad life as an Iraqi national lving under the regime of Saddam Hussein. After reading Sontag I believe it is impossible for any of us to say that we are “independent” photographers.

(I have decided not to include the questionnaires that I completed whilst going through the introduction to higher education course as they contain personal information relating to my health.)

What becomes more surreal is that if I remain aware of my ideologies and motives when making photography then Sontag is irrelevant, and yet Sontag will be an author that I return to repeatedly to ensure that I remain focused and aware of how and why I project my construct of self in my work.

Click to read the full essay

Essay Resources

1 Susan Sontag; 2008; On Photography; London; Penguin Modern Classics

2 Sebastiao Salgado; 2000; Migrations – Humanity in transition; Aperture




6 Benjamin Lowy; 2011; Iraq | Perspectives; Duke University Press; also

7 Katy Parry; 2010; A visual framing analysis of British press photography during the 2006 Israel–

Lebanon conflict; In – Media, War and Conflict, Sage Pub; p69 + 79 and

8 Allan Thompson; 2011; The Media and the Rwanda Genocide; Pluto Press

9 Susan Sontag; 2004; Regarding the torture of others; In – New York Times; 23rd May 2004 see


Other Resources Viewed and Read



Sebastiao Salgado:Exodus by Lelia Salgado; Taschen Books; 2016

The visual fix The seductive beauty of images of violence Jane Kilby; European journal of social theory; March 14 2013

Violence in War and Peace: An Anthology; Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Phillipe Bourgois; Wiley; 2004

Rwanda Revisualized: Genocide, Photography, and the Era of the Witness; Frank Möller; Alternatives: Global, Local, Political Vol. 35, No. 2 (Apr.-June 2010), pp. 113-136

Projecting Trauma, War Photography and the public Sphere; Haim Bresheeth; Third Text; Vol 20, Issue 1, Jan 2006, P57

Photography The Whole Story; Juliet Hacking; Thames and Hudson; 2014





The Salt of the Earth; Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado; Curzon Artificial Eye; 2015

Photography and its Role in Conflict and Peace – (completed essay)

“The images that mobilize conscience are always linked to a historical situation. The more general they are, the less likely they are to be effective” Susan Sontag 1




Sebastiao Salgado

Sebastio Salgado

Sebastiao Salgado published his book, Migrations – Humanity in Transition2 in the year 2000. This was the culmination of 6 years of work, following different groups of people in 40 countries around the world. Some were migrating for economic reasons, others due to natural disasters, and there were also people displaced because of war and genocide.

He has been described as a photojournalist, a documentary photographer and an activist, but this is not how he sees himself. Sebastiao did not visit an area in the style of a journalist covering a war, spending a limited period of time as an “embedded” photographer, returning home and then back to the next national crisis. Instead he moved into a community and lived amongst its inhabitants, developed relationships with people and viewed their plight in accordance with the openness that they would share with him.

This does not mean that he documented what he saw with neutrality, he acknowledges that he has his own ideology that inspired his work as a photographer and influenced the images that he present in his books.

“But, hear me, much of these guys’ work (Glauber Rocha and his comrades), like my photography, was not made because these people were activists, it was made because it was their way of life—you live like this, your ideology is this, and your language is photography or cinema, and your life comes from that.” Sebastiao Salgado 3

Amongst his aims he wanted to change how people viewed war, tragedy, migration and immigration. He has used his role as a photographer to support the work of Medicines San Frontiers, to raise funds for them, and also as an ambassador for the United Nations.

Rwanda 1994

Tutsi corpses in an abandoned school, Nyarubuye, Rwanda, 1995 (Sebastião Salgado)

Tutsi corpses in an abandoned school, Nyarubuye, Rwanda, 1995 (Sebastião Salgado)

Salgado was in Rwanda during 1994, during the genocide in which 800,000 people died. Most of these were Tutsi, murdered by the Hutu. He remained there during the turmoil following the genocide, the displacement, immigration to surrounding countries as refugees, the famine and the disease. The question gets raised as to whether a photographer, making photos of human tragedy is a witness, a chronicler or a participant. This is a pertinent point to consider if you are embarking upon a career in documentary photography, and an opportunity to reflect upon motive.

As well as considering motive, and without discounting the suffering of those whose lives are being recorded, risk to the photographer also has to be taken into account. Salgado became very ill after returning from Rwanda, and his illness can be attributed to witnessing such intense trauma.

“…Migrations…during the time I was photographing this, I lived through a very hard moment in my life, mostly in Rwanda I saw in Rwanda total brutality. I saw deaths by thousands per day. I lost faith in our species. I didn’t believe it was possible for us to live any longer,” 4

Other photographers have lost their lives during the course of their work. During an interview with Joerg Colberg, Benjamin Lowy discusses the impact that the deaths of Chris Hondos and Tim Hetherington had upon him. Hetherington, a British photojournalist, and Hondos and American war photographer were killed by Libyan forces in Misrata whilst covering the 2011 civil war. 5

Benjamin continued to work and he became an “embedded” photographer with the American armed forces, shooting images through the window of a Humvee that was patrolling through Iraq.

Iraq | Perspectives

Iraq Perspectives

Benjamin Lowy 6

He was aware that he had to retain his own personal safety and that it would not have been safe for him to photograph in a manner other than that of an embed.

“Journalistic independence, as an abstract idea, is worthless if the journalist is dead or kidnapped. There are way too many examples of people trying to tell the story in ridiculously extreme situations and paying the price with their freedom.” 5

Lowy felt that using the frame of the window he was shooting through became part of the picture that emphasized the disconnection between himself, the Iraqi civilians and the American soldiers. During his discussion with Colberg he spoke about the political and socio/economic discord between New York and Iraq, and how hard it is to promote empathy and discourse when there is such a strong disconnection.

We must also consider how the ideologies of a nation and culture are reinforced by the media, sometimes consciously, but not always. Is it possible for the media and the public to consider an alternate view if it is entrenched part of the psyche? Katy Parry discusses how the media is selective in its use of images, and captions that go with them. The photographs that are sent to media outlets are evaluated, and may then be cropped. When a photographer takes an image they are selective in what they ignore and what they shoot, so photography is subjective and neither a factual nor objective account of what is happening around the frame. This decisive moment is then reduced and bastardised by the press, so the image that is put out to the public is even more incongruous than the photographers.

“The highly selective use of press photographs, along with their brief captions, may present a strong, forceful idea about a distant conflict. By omitting other possibilities, there is a danger of one-sided representation.” And “Are there visual elements that evoke cultural ideas or values related to the frame?” 7

There are many considerations that may decrease or increase the benefits of photography in conflict. Photography may not be the instigator of peace, but it can bring public awareness to disconnected world situations, that then leads to donations for relief and aid to reach those who most need them. 8

Making photographs can also be the best medium to bring around such intense public disgust that political change is inevitable, whether these images were made with that intent or not.

Abu Ghraib

Selfie by American military personnel, depicting inhumane cruelty to an Iraqi prisoner

Abu Graibh

Image reported by which they obtained from ABC News

The series of images of American soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners damaged the reputation of the Bush administration inside and outside of America. It has had and still has an impact upon the American political system, and to a degree how and when America decides to intervene in conflicts in distant countries.

Sontag’s reportage on the Abu Ghraib images explores why the Bush administration were outraged by the images being made public and yet not by the horror of the actions and makers of the images. She leaves us with a powerful question in relation to the objectivity that’s crucial for the documentary photographer:-

“To have the American effort in Iraq summed up by these images must seem, to those who saw some justification in a war that did overthrow one of the monster tyrants of modern times, ‘unfair.’ A war, an occupation, is inevitably a huge tapestry of actions. What makes some actions representative and others not?” 9



1 Susan Sontag; 2008; On Photography; London Penguin Modern Classics

2 Sebastiao Salgado; 2000; Migrations – Humanity in transition; Aperture




6 Benjamin Lowy; 2011; Iraq | Perspectives; Duke University Press; also

7 Katy Parry; 2010; A visual framing analysis of British press photography during the 2006 Israel–Lebanon conflict; In – Media, War and Conflict, Sage Pub; p69, 79 and

8 Allan Thompson; 2011; The Media and the Rwanda Genocide; Pluto Press

9 Susan Sontag; 2004; Regarding the torture of others; In – New York Times; 23rd May 2004 see