The myth of compassion fatigue


Before we can construct a meaningful account that traces possible links between visual representation, knowledge and action, we need to dispense with some conventional wisdoms that purport to explain how photographs work. One of the largest obstacles to be removed is the ‘compassion fatigue’ thesis…

The problem with regarding the photography of suffering as ‘pornography’


‘Development pornography’. ‘Poverty porn’. ‘Disaster porn’. ‘Ruin porn’. ‘War porn’. ‘Famine porn’. ‘Stereotype porn’. When it comes to the representation of atrocity and suffering, the charge of pornography abounds (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). What does it mean to use this term so frequently in relation to so many different situations? … Continued

How does the media persuade us to give to charities?


In “Please Give Generously” – an excellent documentary broadcast on BBC Radio 4 this weekend – Fergal Keane examined the relationship between charities and the media, in which charities want to raise their profile as well as money, the media needs stories, and both traffic in drama. Britain is home to 166,000 charities that last … Continued

Aid images, and the solution offered by local photographers


Some visual strategies are remarkably persistent, and few more persistent than those employed by humanitarian aid organizations when illustrating their appeals and campaign literature. We documented this in relation to food shortages in Africa as part of the Imaging Famine project. You know the pictures without even seeing them – the photographs of mothers and … Continued