War and conflict photography provides accurate representations of the world and conflicts. While it is hard to understand how an individual can go into these dark places of the world and take an assortment of striking images of conflict and turmoil, it is necessary to remember that these men as well as women go to document situations to inform the public. With their cameras by their side and a brave heart, they step into conditions that are at times gruesome so that they may capture important images for each of us to view.
When it comes to images, photographers have their own visual language that they try to convey to others through photographs. Conflict images can range from a tribe falling to their knees of hunger and malnutrition, a teenager firing a weapon into a crowd in Rwanda, a massive explosion in the Middle East painted with dead bodies or the tragic happenings of 9/11. These kinds of images fuel humanity and they are meant to strike fire into our inner beings, daring us to look away.
These are just a few descriptions of the thousands upon thousands of images that are taken around the globe daily. This world is filled with social unrest and with the word peace being loosely used nowadays. It is only within the margins of hope that we can wish a better future for the generations ahead. We cannot risk listening to our liberal media with their administration fueled agendas and self-righteous political point of views when it comes to conflict. Beyond this there is the age of social media and the internet for which a void can be filled and conflict photographers have a true voice within a place that allows them to share their most penetrating images of what is real without having media giants provide the public with undertones of lies and untruthfulness. Truth is all that we have and a photographic image has the opportunity to tell the correct story. All people want is closure and truth in this world and they sometimes wait a lifetime to get it. Here lies the very reason for a photographer working in this field; the ability to document reality.
Without heroic photographers risking the life that they have for an image to shake the walls of homes around the globe and provide individuals with the truth of the world, then what exactly is left? Without these photographs we have nothing to look at, nothing to remind us of the value of life. This country may have a veil pulled over it daily, but there are still some of us here that can accept the truth of the world and that the truth is important. No veil needs to be used to shelter us. This is why war and conflict photographers exist today and it is why they have always existed. There is true sadness, hate, famine, and death in this world. It takes courage to document such events; it takes a hero to face such heartache. These images are sometimes shocking, but they have to be shared with the public eye. Each of us has in us the qualities to change the future of this world. War and conflict photographers are the ones that are truly trying to shape how we view not just a photograph, but the power and depth of the situation that we are viewing. These are no longer just photographs they are layers of life, they are real events and accounts of first hand trepidation.
Overall James Nachtwey sums it up best. “Why photograph war? Is it possible to put an end to a form of human behavior, which has existed throughout history by a means of photography? The proportions of this seem out of balance, but that very idea has motivated me. For me the strength of photography lies in its ability to evoke a sense of humanity, if war is an attempt to negate humanity then photography can be perceived as the opposite as war and if it is used well it can be a powerful ingredient in the antidote to war. Photographers go to there, to war, for the others that can’t go. To show others, to reach out, to grab them and make them stop what they are doing and pay attention to what is going on. To create pictures powerful enough to overcome the diluting effects of the mass media and to shake people out of their indifference. To protest and by the strength of that protest, make others protest.”
I feel that photography can change the world. Share your images with the world to communicate something powerful, share your images to make an impact on an individual’s life. If one human being can see something, anything within a photo then you have done your duty.