Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Day 6 - Photographs You Should Really Know About!

I thought today I would do something a little different, and blog about the three most important photographs to me, ones which I feel you should really know about. 

Saigon Execution, Taken by Eddie Adams - This is a photograph of Major General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a handcuffed prisoner by the name of  Nguyễn Văn Lém. There is much controversy surrounding this photograph but the official story is Lém was a Việt Cộng officer in Saigon during the Tet Offensive.  However, A Southern Vietnamese official after the execution said that Lém was only a political operative. Unfortunately, I believe it's difficult to say, as either side have great reason to lie about the true events.  This photograph is important to me as it managed to spark mass anti-war movement. I feel this shows the true power of a single photograph and the media. Eddie Adams said himself "The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. What the photograph didn't say was, What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American soldiers?"

Thich Quang Duc's Self-Immolation, Taken by Malcolm Brownes. This is a photograph of the Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Duc, who burnt himself to death. This image was also taken in Saigon like the previous. However, unlike Lém, Quang Duc had chosen his own fate. He was protesting against the persecution of Buddhists by the Southern Vietnamese government led by Ngo Dinh Diem. Photographs of the self-immolation quickly circled the world. The actions of Quang Duc caused international pressure to be placed on Diem. He later announced reforms which had the intention of mollifying the Buddhists. At the time of the incident, President Kennedy said “No news picture in history has generated so much emotion around the world as that one."Once again, a photograph made history and changed the future. Although these two images may be considered horrific, they did a great deal of good.  

Photograph taken by Yomiuri Shimbun.  This one is less of a history lesson, but one I really thought I should include for a contemporary element to the post. I am sure you can all re-call the Japanese tsunami. This is a 4-month-old baby girl in a pink bear suit which was miraculously rescued from the rubble by soldiers after being missing for four days after the tsunami. This photograph shows to me and I hope to you, that even after something terrible, we have the ability to pick ourselves back up and carry on. I think that's important for us to remember, we are survivors. Bad things happen, the tsunami, the self-immolation and the Saigon Execution. All terrible events. But when something goes bad, we fix it, the best we can.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the change up!

P.S. I'd be interested to hear you comments on whether I should just stick to the normal posts or put more of these up in the future.

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