The power of photography



I’m sorry if you came here to look for photography and now you find something else. Yes, the world is a bad place. Yes, we do need to find distractions to allow us to keep our sanity. But sometimes, things get so bad that we can’t allow ourselves to look the other way.

This is a weblog about photography and these times are providing us with an example what power photography can have. We wouldn’t have known about what happened in that prison in Iraq if the people who tortured, humiliated, and, in some cases, killed their prisoners hadn’t taken photos of themselves and their actions.

If we put all ideological altercation aside what makes this case so painful is the fact that we are not looking at thugs from some dictatorial regime who went berserk. We are looking at soldiers who went to Iraq for lots of reasons - one of which was to get rid of a regime that massively violated human rights and that let thousands of people perish under the most gruesome circumstances.

Don’t misunderstand me, I did not and do not support the invasion of Iraq and I think that many, but not all, of the reasons given to support the war were phony and/or simply shameless lies. But I do believe that there are valid reasons; reasons that, for me, were not outweighed by the reasons against the invasion. And one of those reasons are the human rights violations under Saddam Hussein. And this is why seeing those images and learning about the horrendeous abuses in that prison (and elseplace) is so painful. “At least people there, especially in prisons, are better off”, I used to tell myself. No, they’re not! In fact, that kind of sexual humiliation is the absolute worst you can do to a Muslim.

There’s no excuse for any of this. No excuse. I’ve heard about a “lack of training” and whatever else. What nonsense! Do you need extra training to know that you must not treat other people like animals? Does that require extra training? I don’t think it does.

But what can we do? How can we deal with our anger and our frustration and whatever else we feel? Frankly, I don’t know. I think if you want to do at least something, consider giving money to Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch. They can use it.