The elusive enemy: Looking back at the “war on terror’s” visual culture


Last week The Guardian published an extraordinary report on how Al Qaeda is using aid to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of displaced Somalis in East Africa’s zone of food insecurity. Jamal Osman’s investigation – including a compelling eleven minute video – reveals how aid workers and medical units, including American and British citizens, are … Continued

The problem with the dramatic staging of photojournalism: what is the real issue?


Photojournalism Behind the Scenes [ITA-ENG subs] from Ruben Salvadori on Vimeo. Ruben Salvadori’s video – “an auto-critical photo essay” – demonstrates clearly that when we see a conflict, what we see is the outcome of “conflict image production.” It’s like those still photographs which reveal photographers at work – Paul Lowe’s 1992 photograph of the Somalia … Continued

Imaging famine: How critique can help


What is the point of critique, and how can it help produce better visual stories? According to Jonathan Jones (writing in the Guardian on 22 July) all the sophisticated critiques of photojournalism are pointless when it comes to picturing famine: It seems shocking that commentators…wasted their breath on the ethics of a photograph instead of … Continued

Thinking Images v.20: Famine iconography as a sign of failure


The homogenisation of ‘Africa’ – the rendering of the continent into one form. The anthropomorphisation of ‘Africa’ – the representation of the continent as one person. The infantilisation of ‘Africa’ – the image of the continent as a child. The impoverishment of ‘Africa’ – the construction of the continent as a desperate, poor, passive victim. … Continued

The Back Catalogue (3): Images of atrocity, conflict and war


Welcome to the third in “The Back Catalogue” series of posts… I’ve been actively writing online for nearly three years now, and one of the challenges of the blog format is how to keep old posts with content that is potentially still relevant from slipping off the radar. And because this site combines my research with … Continued

The new visual stories of ‘Africa’


What is the visual story that needs to be told about Africa? Is there a pictorial strategy that can account for one billion people, living in 53 countries that occupy 12 million square miles, speaking two thousand languages, embodying multiple cultures and numerous ethnicities, with manifold intersections with our globalised world? Would we even ask … Continued