Monday, October 26, 2009

The Painters of Battles

Photograph by Halden Krog

To be a journalist is to be empowered. You hold in your hands the tools to a blank canvas – but it is what you choose to paint that defines you. Choice. Each day is a choice, to capture the truth or to manipulate reality to satisfy our own moral conscience.

Too often the individual becomes the product, commercialised, dehumanised and we forget to engage with the real life tragedy. Our humanity is fading as journalism becomes more callous and competitive, wartime photography staining the pages of our media with decapitated bodies.

We too are obliged to the industry to deliver a product, a conscience simply a crippling luxury. Halden Krog, photographer of the infamous Burning Man, questions at what point does one take a picture or choose to lay down their camera - no longer a photojournalist but a human being with a moral obligation to save a life.

We are at war with our own morality, and we are faced with a choice whether to answer the call of our conscience and risk falsifying the truth. A critic of The Painter of Battles by former wartime journalist, Arturo Perez-Reverte, remarked, “Is there a moral obligation on the part of the photographer to not capture certain moments, lest they create a tainted vision that alters reality?”

Capturing the truth is intrinsic to our nature but there is a price that comes with this responsibility. As human beings are torched alive we step back, observe and mechanically disengage ourselves from the humanising character of interference.

The passion is dead.

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