Photography and it’s role in conflict and peace – Research trail – Introduction to HE Part 2

It’s been a day of contemplation and consideration. I made use of a bus journey to develop an ITEP map (similar a spidergram or mind map). I have plotted my primary and secondary research methods and planned which individuals and organisations that I wish to contact.

The most thought provoking part of the day was considering the work of Benjamin Lowy in his book Iraq | Perspectives; Benjamin Lowy; 2012; Duke University Press.

Composing an email that I will send to Getty Images Reportage, the Telegraph newspaper and Stop the War Coalition was really a positive exercise. I decided on my research themes because I believe photography can be used as a platform for change because an image creates an emotional impact and provokes thought. But I have also added a question about the role of photography in propaganda. There is a possibility that photography can be used to halt change by creating feelings of outrage, hatred and justification for violence.

So now I have a counter arguement.

Doing the ITEP map gave me the opportunity to collate keywords and phrases that I can use in Google scholar to aid my research.

In the words of Hannibal Smith “I love it when a plan comes together.” The A Team; Universal Television 1983.

The email I composed.

I am a photography student with The Open College of the Arts, and I am currently exploring the role of photography and it’s Role in Conflict and Peace.
I have a few of questions that I would like to put forward and would appreciate your input if you have the time.
1) What is the aim of using images during a time of conflict?
2) Who are the intended audience?
3) Does photography have such an emotional impact that it is in its own right a medium for social and political change?
4) With the rise of organisations such as ISIL, is it realistic that any one image can be used as propaganda for opposing sides in conflict, and thereby changing the role of photography to one of maintaining impasse and preventing change?
Many thanks.


Photography and its role in conflict and peace – Research Trail – Introduction to HE

Photography and its role in conflict and peace

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

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

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

Sebastiao Salgado:Exodus by Lelia Salgado; Taschen Books 2016

I watched Salt of the Earth – A bio documentary about the photographer Sebastiao Salgado recently, and felt awestruck – by the images, the stories of the individuals, groups and cultures, and also of the lengths that Sebastiao went to to document the plight and suffering of people, around the world.

Although The Salt of The Earth covered a vast proportion of Salgado’s creative work, I cried when watching the plight of those who were fleeing from the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 (Genocide against the Tutsi)

To me, the image above highlights pain, suffering and abandonment. Just looking at the photo, without reading the book or reflecting back to the film, questions come to my mind.

The man in the background appears to be nonchalantly walking past the scene as if this is an everyday occurrence, so I wonder how quickly does it take for a person or a culture to become desensitised to death and murder… or is he walking past afraid, afraid to reach out, fearful of his own safety…or was he involved in the murder of these people?

Where are the police? Why are there no crowds of people horrified by the tragedy? Who will bury the dead? How long have the victims been left after their death? How were they killed? Who killed them? Why were they killed? Who cares?

Who Cares? The question is not a flippant disregard for the plight of these Tutsi, it’s a question for me to consider when making photography. Do I care? What do I care about? Do I want to use photography to create drama for the amusement of those who are in no way connected to the suffering of those I wish to document? Or do I want to use photography as a means of eliciting change in the world?

Can photography be used a means of creating change? Personally – I hope so I will explore this during this project.


Sebastiao Salgado

Sebastio Salgado

Starting Point :- Salt of the Earth – Decia Films – Written by Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and David Rosier.

Other sources Viewed



Blogging – As a Learning Log

I have had reservations about how to go about using other peoples images as reflective practice and learning. My reservations were more about how to use the images of others without falling foul of copyright.

I have no problem with the idea of blogging as a learning log. I think it is far more effective than keeping a note book and printing images or collecting them in a scrapbook.

I am currently going through “Introduction to Studying HE- Developing your learning log” and thought it would be useful to review and OCA Blog. I have just had a look at he learning log of James Payne, and particularly liked his page on photographic lighting. He discusses lighting in general (and I will read the rest of the blog in more detail later), but I particularly like where he talks about diffuse lighting (from large light sources) creating soft shadows, and small light sources creating hard shadows.

I feel that as a photographer I should know more about light – Photograph (LightWrite or writing with light). I have a basic understanding of lighting, shade, time of day, weather – my favourite lighting is post rain sunshine, where there is enough cloud cover to soften the light and enough light to create clarity and depth of contrast. But my understanding is basic and I have a lot to learn.

I keep a written journal at the moment to reflect upon my practice and development, but I wouldn’t say that it is critical learning or indepth reflective practice. James has helped me to see how I can be more reflective and critical.