Thursday, 2 April 2009

Help or hindrance?

G20 'protester' smashes the window of The Royal Bank of Scotland, London, UK

After viewing the G20 demonstration photographs distributed widely over the last day or so, I've started to wonder about the boundaries between photographer and subject when it comes to press photography. The above image shows the media frenzy for a story. Would the protester have smashed the window if the mass of photographers hadn't been there? Possibly but he might not have.

Influence is what we are dealing with here. How does a camera affect the way we act? Does it intensify the actions of those in the camera viewfinder? I believe that it can - in certain situations - but i have that documentary photography philosophy which is that the photographer should be a witness but not a participating influence on the story being told. With the above photograph you can almost feel the excitment felt by the press snappers as the destruction begins - they have their eye catching front page image. It turns a quiet, boring news story into a headline grabbing circus with the press feeding off the resulting frenzy.

I'm not the only one whose reservations over certain media images of the G20 demo. Over at the PhotographyLot blog, Tom White expresses many of the sentiments that i feel too. Have a look at Tom's excellent article HERE

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