pressmen performance and photography

Saturday, August 05, 2006

photographic propaganda

Saw this quote from Robert Capa "The truth is the best picture, the best propaganda." After I mentioned lying this sounded apt. I am not connecting Capa to this negative thought I just was interested by his use of the word propaganda. For those of you who don't know he was one of the most famous war photographers of the 20th Century, have a look here to find out more. There were some interesting thoughts in the comments section re lying. I intend to explore this over the next few weeks and to give some references I have found re this on the web. Look here to see a code of ethics from one photographic association I liked this point - "Strive for total and unrestricted access to subjects, recommend alternatives to shallow or rushed opportunities, seek a diversity of viewpoints, and work to show unpopular or unnoticed points of view."

What happens when you are in a dangerous situation,the authorities have your passport,you are paid to get good photos,you have a family to feed,deadlines to meet,sensationalism is a key goal. where do you draw a line in the sand? certainly a challenge.
Do photojournalists become as opinionated as some journalists and so sure of their truth. Robert Fisk, who often writes for the Independant, even has a negative idea named for him, Fisking. The definition can be found here.
report or create the news? by text and pictures.

3 Comments:

Blogger hermajestythequeen said...

glad to see we are passing the 'handwaving' stage and almost bi-passing the fury/flurry period. I see that Fisking is favoured generally but it should come from an informed source such as my mightiness. Ooops the crown is sliding again.

Doesn't the text on the sites you mention kinda emphasise that my earlier ramblings have an element of truth in them?

How free do we think the British Press is? It's rather strange that when travelling overseas - news very different and more informed often seems to be in th 'foreign press' (a bit of handwaving here) - and not a smidgen of that same 'news' is seen in the British Press. Is this because it is untrue, propoganda or another instance of trumping up headlines when there has been a lull in sensationalism? But - if the story is supported by pictures too - then what? Are we being fed sanitised news that has been edited by the British Government? How could they police all the news from all the media? I believe they have very stict codes of conduct where the line may be overstepped. Maybe this is enough of a deterrant. A bit like our very own Polaris.

I have my electric wire fence and body-guards (I think they play cards a lot and fall asleep about 3.00am). The only way I can experience real life is when I dress-up as a camel and roam Camden market. No-one seems to notice me. Was that my picture you took? If all this sounds rediculous - then just take a look at the current blogs and what Cappa has said about lieing. Isn't this all about experience and maturity and interpretation? What may be surprising and shocking for one - may be common-place for another. I find cooking one's own eggs & bacon rather shocking/dangerous as my crown often gets splashed. Charles seems to enjoy it. I'm off to Polo now - what are yoooooo doing? BBQ I suppose - on da beach - surrounded by more of my subjects I imagine. Why not do what my friend Jamie Oliver suggests and 'try something different'. It's sad when we ALL use Macs and think we 'think different'. You see how these Fisks stray and lead onto something entirely different? Oooops! there goes my crown again.

11:00 am  
Blogger hermajestythequeen said...

I wonder if anyone who read the bit concerning Cappa and his 108 pictures taking during a landing on "D-Day" 1944 would agree that it was highly possible that the darkroom technician who processed and dried his films - was a government agent?

Apparently only 8 or 11 pictures remained when the technician accidently put the heat on a film drier above a temperature that melted Cappa's films. Ity's possible that this was savotage and yet another instance where news that is thought unsuitable for mass consumption is 'edited' or taken out of circulation altogether. Often there are clumsy attempts to do this (I'm handwaving again) but sophistocated methods can be extremely successful in 'protecting' us from unsavoury material. Generally it is politically motivated but it is not confined to political matters totally. What other instances can anyone suggest or know about?

Cappa must have been mortified about his melted films - or was he? Were theyt a load of rubbish that were mainly images that were full of camera shake (think of the situation). Were they just not up-to-scratch? Did Cappa engineer this whole episode in order to highlight the better pictures he had taken? It is not beyond comprehension is it? After all he had earlier changed his name to Robert Cappa to ingratiate himself more familiarly with the Americans (so it is said). This was to further his career in photo-journalism and enable him to become more easily recognised and established. What lengths these photographers and journalist will go too!

My point is that Cappa was not like the rest of us. He was no saint or possibly not as squeaky clean as suggested/portrayed in some reports, articles/stories we have read. I believe this is so and applies to the majority of people in many areas of communication, the media, art and almost everywhere else one looks. Exceptions might have been made in say, Mother Terrassa's instance but even here we see that she is under suspect... (I'm using the below of yet another example of how perfectly innocent actions by well meaning souls can be misinterpreted - or are they?)

"The saintly figure of Mother Teressa who devoted her life to the betterment of Indian poor leaving her country of birth to settle there. VHP accusses Mother Teressa of proselytizing and converting Hindus to Christianity under the garb of charity. They blame her of projecting a poor image of India in order to raise large funds abroad. Mother Terrassa is further accused of squandering charity money on her treatment abroad. Perhaps most outrageous of the allegations is her having links with criminals and mobsters. Ridiculously she is also blamed of projecting a poor image of India even after her death as tens of thousands of reports who turned up to cover her funeral flashed India's poverty to the entire world".

Even though this may be true (and most certainly is) I can't remember thinking that this was a politically devisive plan executed with Mother Teressa as a main player. Maybe this was to the advantage of some other country but to accuse her so specifically is somehow a nonsense tantamount to a blasphemy.

It is as though my own subjects would accuse me of retreating to Sandrinham to avoid the hoi polloi.
It is interesting to note that besides my own majestic view on the word hoi polloi - there are others who have a similar view. For instance, my friend Lizzie agrees that children can distinguish themselves from the hoi polloi by being scrupulous honest. Pity this does not extend later in life when they become photo-journalists and the like.

The exchange of roles in "The Prince and the Pauper" suggests that a man of the people can be a benevolent ruler because of his humble roots, that a prince can become a better ruler through exposure to hoi polloi.


America's cereal queen [Marjorie Merriweather Post, heir to the Post Cereal fortune] had the same problems that the hoi polloi have -- philandering husbands, messy divorces, soggy Grape-Nuts.

You see - it's not sooooo different out there after all.

I often wonder where all this is going... ooops! my crowns slipping again.

1:45 pm  
Blogger hermajestythequeen said...

I too have with the belief that you can journey to another place and become another person. Sometimes you can just join Magnum and become a different person. Oh it's sickening isn't it?

1:52 pm  

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