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War Photography - Coursework Example

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Summary
The word photography means literally "writing with light" (American, 2003), and since its first appearance in the 1830's photographers have been attempting to create a literal representation of what is in front of the camera. To be succinct, the film (or latterly the sensor) is exposed and the "light" coming in from outside the camera is "written" on the film…
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War Photography
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War Photography

Download file to see previous pages... But at its most simple, the photograph (whether it be of a flower in bloom or of a man being shot) is seen as "authentic" because it shows, most of the time at least, what it literally purports to show. Take one of the most famous war photographs ever taken:
Another definition is in order here. The dictionary defines propaganda as "1. the systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause. 2. Material disseminated by the advocates of a doctrine or cause" (American, 2003). In general, 'propaganda' has come to imply some one-sided presentation that, while perhaps reflecting an actual event or facts, in reality is skewing them in one very particular way. Propaganda is now used as a pejorative whereas when the word was first used, in the First World War it was merely a descriptor of a certain kind of news technique.
This analysis will consider war photography through the discussion of four contrasting wars: the Spanish Civil War, the Vietnam War, the Falklands War and the Gulf War. Each war may be seen as a fulcrum around which many different forces were revolving. Within the context of photography, different technological developments and the ease of photography provided new opportunities for photographers as the century advanced, and new difficulties for those who would seek to control the images produced by those photographers.
There is a massive difference between the fragile, heavy and difficult-to-use cameras of the Nineteenth Century and the powerful, easily used cameras of this century. The former needed days to produce the photographs that had been taken, and because of the transportation systems of the time, maybe weeks or even months to reach a major media outlet for publication. Today a digital photograph can be taken and published to the Internet within seconds, thus giving access to the whole world. This situation provides numerous challenges for mass media outlets and for the government agencies that would seek to control the dissemination of information/documentation. The war photograph is a central focus for this control.
As a brief glance at Adams's famous photograph of the "execution" illustrates, even a single photograph can raise a number of perhaps unanswerable questions. If the photograph is seen as "propaganda", whose viewpoint would be being put forward If a photograph is "untouched" by manipulative editing, can it be anything other than authentic

I The Beginnings of War Photography: The Spanish Civil War and World War II
Wars have been photographed virtually since the beginning of photography. The American Civil War provides thousands of photographs of battlefields in the aftermath of the killing and portraits of soldiers provide a memorable record of the strain that this "total war" produced. Similarly, the First World War produced many images of that incomparable carnage but these were mostly taken after the event as the cameras were large, fragile and unwieldy, exposures often took several minutes (in the Nineteenth ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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