War Photography Essay

1823 Words8 Pages
War Photography Most people view war photography as a protest of the war. Displaying horrific photos of war is viewed as a means of providing insight into real life on the battlefield. Originally, public photos in relation to the war were used as propaganda to gain war support from civilians, and were heavily restricted by government regulations. Today, on the other hand, distribution rules on war photography have relaxed in terms of the amount released; however, rules on the photographs distributed are subject to stricter regulations and government scrutiny. Despite the fact that war photography is widely understood to provide insight into the real terrors of war, there are many flaws in the believed objectivity of these photos. Although war photography is thought to purposefully cause the viewer to repudiate war, it ironically justifies and fuels conflict among its viewers. In her novel, Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag explores the depths of war photography and its effects on its viewers. Within the first few chapters of the novel, Sontag discusses the violent nature of war photography and its expected effects on its viewers; stating that while photographs can effect us and move us momentarily, they cannot move us beyond the image in order to construct an interpretation. She supports her main view by questioning the capability of the viewers to comprehend the raw terrors of war. In other words, Sontag claims that we cannot fully understand and react appropriately to war photography simply because we have not experienced war and therefore, we react with socially constructed responses and other coping mechanisms such as disassociation in order to ease our consciences. Sontag establishes this sentiment by stating in her novel, “’We’-this ‘we’ is everyone who has never experienced anything like what they went through- don’t understand. We don’t get it.
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