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Photojournalism

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My original picture could be classed as being photojournalistic as well as domestic photography, because even though it was taken as a souvenir and for personal use, it became a ‘’special event”, which was seen as newsworthy. These pictures were informative and spoke for themselves, like a photojournalistic photograph would. In a way, they became the story itself.

“Journalism that presents a story primarily through the use of pictures.”
(wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn accessed on 27/11/2010)

Photojournalism is basically what photography was invented for in the first place: capturing the moment in order to be able to show it to people.

Photojournalism is medium which aims to share realistic “eyewitness accounts” of events and people in the world in order to publish it in the media world, for example, they compliment a news paper article.

They can either be a series of images that speak for themselves or they can be accompanied by explanatory text.

The areas that would be more likely to offer photojournalistic opportunities are wars, special events and disaster scenes.

It is easy to confuse photojournalism with documentary photography as both of them document important events.

The difference between them is that photojournalism focuses on “special events”, e.g. a bomb explosion aftermath, whereas documentary photography documents ongoing events, for instance, how the rate in obesity has risen.

As technology developed editing photographs digitally become more and more popular, The fact that photo manipulation can bring out colours, get rid of impurities and even merge several images together has created a whole new world of possibilities for photographers.

Whereas around 50 years ago we had to believe in what we saw in the picture to be true, now people question things straight away.

Probably the most famous example in the recent years of photo manipulation in photojournalism was Brian Walski. He was an award-winning photojournalist who was covering the Iraqi war in 2003.

He hit the news when his altered photograph was used in The Times, Hartford Courant and the Chicago. When the employees noticed that in the background there were civilians who were appearing twice. He informed his superiors at The Times, Colin Crowford, the director of photography. When Crawford finally reached Walski admitted to altering the image, so Crawford fired him.

This scandal caused a lot of debate about the ethics of photo manipulation, arguing that it photo manipulation caused credibility loss for photojournalism as a profession.

Walski’s explanation was: “Things are happening so fast. You have to watch out for yourself, and look what’s going on to be able to compose pictures.” He says he was under a lot of pressure to get some good photographs by the set deadline.

“ I had ten frames of soldier totally cut off. At some point I must have zoomed out. When that guy came up with the baby, I shot off ten more frames. I had just one where you could see the soldier’s face. The others he was turned away. I put four pictures on my laptop. I was going back and forth. There was no reason to do what I did. I was playing around a little bit. I said, ‘that looks good.’ I worked it and sent it”, he continues.

However, he accepts full responsibility for what he did and says that there is no excuse for it. He also feels guilty about making his colleagues look bad.

[http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-photojournalism.htm accesed on 25/11/2010]

[http://photography-tips.lifeblob.com/2010/06/what-is-photojournalism/ accessed on 25/11/2010]

http://www.allbusiness.com/retail-trade/miscellaneous-retail-retail-stores-not/4450879-1.html [accessed on 25/11/2010]

[http://www.questia.com/googleScholar.qst;jsessionid=9E754595D18BD7E035C83647CC73E57F.inst2_1b?docId=5001934917 accesed on 25/11/2010]

[http://massthink.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/ut-vietnam-girl.jpg accessed on 25/10/2010]

[Julianne Hickerson Newton (2001). The burden of visual truth: the role of photojournalism in mediating reality. Routledge]

[http://www.metapedia.com/wiki/index.php?title=Talk:Cultural_Hybridity_Discussion_Spring_2008:_Week_10 accessed on 25/11/2010]

Written by coskufertingercmp

November 28, 2010 at 10:50 pm

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Intertextuality.

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“Intertextuality emphasises that texts have context” (Chandler: 201)

“A useful semiotic technique is comparison and contrast between differing treatments of similar themes (or similar treatments of different themes) within or between different genres or media” (Chandler: p201)

Types:
▪ Intertextuality (quotation) –
N/A
▪ Paratextuality (titles, footnotes, captions, narration…)
Lynndie Endland and and Colleague
▪ Architextuality (genre identification)
Domestic Photography/ Photojournalism
▪ Metatextuality (critical commentary on another text)
N/A
▪ Hypotextuality (another text or genre is transformed or extended by this text)
The photograph is being used by massmedia therefore it became photojournalism
▪ Hypertextuality (direct connections to other texts through hyperlinks, for example)
N/A
• Reflexivity (self-consciousness of intertextuality)
N/A
• Alteration (how much has the other text been changed)
N/A
• Explicitness (direct or indirect quotation)
N/A
• Criticality to comprehension (will it still make sense if you don’t recognise the reference)
It would look like a casual snapshot if we didn’t know the story that goes with it.
• Scale of adoption (is it entirely a mash-up)
N/A
• Structural unboundedness (is it tied to a larger structure – eg genre, series etc)
The photograph is connected to the photographs of the torture that went on in Abu Ghraib

Written by coskufertingercmp

November 26, 2010 at 11:08 pm

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Semiotics

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“The study of the sign-systems by which meaningful communication or literary discourse occurs. As understood by semiotics, in a linguistic event a set of conventions (langue) is used to express a particular meaning.”

Semiotics in its simplest context focuses on the relationship between denotation/signifier and connotation/signifier so basically description and meaning. This theory suggests that when an object is shown to us, like for example in an advert, we first look at it, then we examine it closer to get the meaning of it.

Denotation is commonly described as being the ‘literal’ meaning of the object, whereas connotation is basically your personal thought of it.

Roland Barthes is one of the most famous theorists who played a big role in the development of semiotics.

When I apply this on the picture of Lynndie England and Charles Graner this is the outcome:

Deontation —–> Connotation

Lynndie England —–>Quite manly manner

Charles Graner —–>  Aiming for closeness

Tattoos  —–> US Marines

Handcuffs/bars—–> Prison

Boxes/tables —–>Not quite settled in/temporary stay

Uniform —–> Soldiers

Closeness in pose—–>He is protecting her

Garden chair —–> not ideal environment, not very settled

Another thing to mention is that even though one would think that because Graner is leaning over England, he is dominant, in this case England’s relaxed and non-submissive, relaxed stance, his dominance is reduced, which makes her the dominant character in this photograph.

2nd order connotation/ myth

This is the outcome of where semiotics takes us. Barthes looked at myths as “dominant ideologies of our time”, things that are obviously true.

In this case the happiness would be the superficial happiness of the couple.
Considering the fact that these people are soldiers or even ‘monsters’, who are going to commit disturbing crimes, they have done a good job in displaying a natural kind of happiness, as if they are not in a prison but their home. This is the face of imperialism, as they are the force, which invades another country, but seem to have made it their own home. Whereas the natives are kept in inhumane conditions and are stripped of their most natural rights, these people seem to be supreme and happy, as the natives are suffering.

Another universal myth is the fact that they are smiling for the camera. Regardless of the circumstances they look genuinely happy. This universal myth could be applied on the rest of the series of these pictures, where Sabrina Harman and Charles Graner give the camera thumbs up next to a corpse.

[english.ucumberlands.edu/litcritweb/glossary.htm accessed 23/11/2010]

[http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/sem06.html accessed 23/10/2010]

Written by coskufertingercmp

November 26, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Domestic Photography

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The picture, which I started off with, was taken as a ‘souvenir’ for Graner. He was known for being camera-obsessed and taking pictures of anything and everything. As these pictures were taken for personal use, you could say that it is “domestic photography” which later turned into being “photojournalism”.

 

History of Domestic Photography

Photography started to become popular at the beginning of the 1840s, when images of the unexplored and exotic world decorated the walls of middle-class families. It was “as much part of home entertainment as television is today”.

Pictures of their times away from home and journeys around the world, of course only those who could afford it, formed the family albums.  “The feminine domesticity of the extended family was visibly sustained by masculine adventure, both military and entrepreneurial.”

Seeing as people most people didn’t have the means to travel around the world, they decorated their houses with places that took they found beautiful, of places they haven’t been to and people they didn’t know.

Of course, it didn’t take long for someone to turn this into profit. William Henry Fox Talbot opened the first person to open a workshop that printed photographs for sale. He was the person to invent a photographic print process called Calotype. This involved:

“…the exposure f sensitized paper in the camera from which, after the processing, positive paper prints could be made.”

This process was not used much in England in those days because of “Talbot’s own patents” but it was later properly developed and taken advantage of by David Octavius and Robert Adamson in Scotland.

Photographs of stunning views became more and more popular as time went on, creating a booming industry.
Towards the 1920s photography started to become available to everyone and transport became easier through, for example, cars people got the chance to travel further than ever before. Middle-class artistic travelers complained about the accessibility of this to “vulgar sightseers” claiming that they “ruined the very views that they had come to discover”. This comment seems quite elitist, however there was some truth to this as the unspoilt landscapes seemed to disappear and turn into a tourism based profit industry.

 

Now, more than ever, photography is available to everyone, especially since digital photography. Photographs are easier to take, easily deleted and mostly don’t need to be developed as they are largely kept on the computer. Most of the time they are uploaded onto social networking sites, which also hold responsibility for adding a whole new dimension to domestic photography. An example of this is the fact that traditional family albums have turned into digital albums on Facebook.

 

 

 

[Liz Wells (1998). Photography: A Critical Introduction. London: Routledge. p.120-125]

[http://www.saradistribution.com/foto3/theauthorPWLong.jpg accessed 24/11/2010]

Written by coskufertingercmp

November 26, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Study Diary 5

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I will now explore the actual type of photography my photograph is. Seeing as it is Domestic Photography I will research what this means and what goes into that category. Because this picture has then been used for journalistic purposes some argue that it also has elements of photojournalism, which I will also explore.

Along with this I will apply textual analysis onto my photograph to see, like I have previously said, if there is any hidden messages or details I have missed out on. Of course there will be some theories that won’t apply to my photograph but I will explore each of those which we have gone trough in class. We did group sessions on these so I will use the notes, which I have taken in class.

Written by coskufertingercmp

November 26, 2010 at 8:00 pm

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Lynndie, the antithesis

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Lynndie was seen as the antithesis of Jessica Lynch.

In contrast to Lynch, England was not attractive, full of life and a ‘sweetheart’.

But she did provoke an emotional reaction, even if not positive, on the ‘war on terror’ and even became the face of the scandal.

Lynndie’s situation was interesting as she was both powerful and powerless at the same time.

She was powerful in the sense that she was strong enough to torture men as a woman. She was intimidating and powerful as she was white, all American therefore part of the occupying force which made her in a sense ‘the man’. She tortured men by having that ‘masculine power’ by ‘feminizing’ her victims.

So all these factors were “all powerful identity markers in comparison with being Iraqi, brown skinned, Muslim and captive” in the context of Abu Ghraib.

The torture techniques that were applied “can be read as a manipulation of power dynamics designed to feminize the captives and masculinise the captors in a powerful/powerless dynamic.”

This will eventually lead to the capturer becoming more and more self-confident because of the power-flow, which is gained by being the captor and stripping others of their self-confidence. This could explain Graners role in this whole scandal.

England’s tomboy appearance, like I have mentioned before, could be related to her role in this, which seems more assimilated then it would, for example, another soldier, who was also involved in this, Sabrina Harman. Harman’s appearance slightly resembles that of Lynch’s with the blonde hair and pretty face. She did not get as much attention as England did.

It is certain that England did have power, but this was not a successful and moral empowerment. Event though she had the status and the physical power, it seems, to apply physical abuse, she was still in a critical and vulnerable position.

After all, she only chose to take part in this because of her loyalty and commitment to the military and therefore a ‘hegemonic masculinity’ and her partner who put her under pressure to do so, so again: masculinity.

Interestingly, the fact that Graner, who was known to have a history of violence, like putting razor blades into a prisoner’s food and restrain orders against his ex-wife, was the ring leader of abuse did not seem as unacceptable as a young woman ‘stepping so far out of her traditional gender role’.

Like I mentioned earlier, the fact that she was outside of those ‘social norms’ was an excuse for her to be seen as an ‘isolated aberration rather than a systematic problem with the military culture.’ As a solution the scandal was overcome but scapegoating a few individuals rather then questioning the system that allowed this to happen in the first place.

Another ‘funny’ detail is that England’s attorney told her to grow her hair before the parole board in order for her to look more ‘feminine’

Alex J. Bellamy (2008). Security and the war on terror, Taylor & Francis. p. 42-49.]

Written by coskufertingercmp

November 26, 2010 at 5:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Jessica Lynch

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After reading the book “Security and the War on Terror” my understanding how gendered identities are manipulated for emotional and moral means developed and gave me a clearer outlook on the media.

There were two high-profile American female soldiers in the war, which triggered an emotional reaction from the whole world in two very different ways.
One of them being Lynndie England and the other being Jessica Lynch.

The story of Jessica Lynch is as follows:
Jessica Lynch was a 19-year-old soldier from West Virginia who was sent over to Iraq as a supply clerk with the US army.  She was a member of the member of the US Army’s 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company./
On the first of April 2003 they took a wrong turn near Nassiriya and were ambushed. Nine of her fellow soldiers were killed. Lynch, who was wounded, was taken to the hospital where she was ‘held’ for eight days.

She was then dramatically rescued by the US Navy Seals and the Army Rangers.
There were reports that claimed that Lynch was interrogated and slapped, and had a shot wound. However this was denied by the doctor who examined her: I examined her, I saw she had a broken arm, a broken thigh and a dislocated ankle” concluding that this was a typical car accident injury.
He also claimed that they gave her the best treatment available and the only specialist bed in the hospital.

“They want to distort the picture. I don’t know why they think there is some benefit in saying she has a bullet injury.”

It had also been reported that the US army knew that one day before Lynch’s rescue, the Iraqi military had fled, but the US army still made a grand entrance.

“We heard the noise of helicopters. We were surprised. Why do this? There was no military, there were no soldiers in the hospital” her doctor said.

Their rescue operation was described as:
“It was like a Hollywood film. They cried ‘go, go, go’, with guns and blanks without bullets, blanks and the sound of explosions. They made a show for the American attack on the hospital – action movies like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan.”
They came in boosting down the doors and “they were said to have come under fire, but they made it to Lynch and whisked her away by helicopter.”
The whole operation was filmed on a night vision camera and then made into a 5-minute feature by the US.

On her arrival home she was seen as a heroine, greeted by a load of media and public interest. She wasn’t a hero for saving others’ lives but for being saved by a masculine hero-like figure, so for ‘being an object, not a subject” (Howard&Prividera, 2004, p.04)

Her story was covered by a drama series called “Saving Jessica Lynch”, a documentary called “Saving Private Lynch” and a biography called “I am a soldier, too” written by journalist Rick Bragg. There are even fridge magnets that quote “America loves Jessica Lynch”.

The reason why this story was covered so much is because it was good and rare news that came from a brutal war zone.

She fitted into those ‘social norms’, unlike Lynndie England, so the consumers of those media texts could easily relate to her. Though Lynch and England have common grounds, as they are from the same place, they are pretty much the same age, and they both joined the army in order to save up some money to be able to afford university; Lynch had a factor that England didn’t:

the girl-next door image.

Lynch came was the typical blonde haired, blue eyed pretty girl, who valued her family and the community she came from. She had won the beauty pageant when she was younger.

So in a way she represented the typical feminine image.

For the media and the US Army, she was a metaphor for the purity and innocence of the US nation, who was attacked by terrorists from the east, In lynch’s case the Iraqi military, and then saved by the US army, just like the US government claimed to be democratizing and freeing Iraq.

Takcas: “This exclusive yet reassuring image of national identity conforms to the Bush Administration’s own conception of the homeland as a vulnerable community in need of militarised protection.” (2003:302)

Jessica Lynch stood for everything the US claimed to defend in the ‘war on terror’. She represented conventional beauty, “freedom, equality and modern entitlements” which strongly contrasted Iraqi women’s restricted liberal rights whose bodies and therefore identities were mostly covered up.

Lynch was said to have been in a gun battle before she was taken to the hospital, which later was proven to be false. But this did remind the nation of how liberal it was, ‘allowing’ women to be ‘heroes’

However “her heroism is tempered by sexist notions of woman’s bravery” (Kumad 2004:301)

She had to be aggressive therefore, arguably, masculine and, at the end of the day, she had to be saved be masculine protectors. Similar, again to Iraq’s position in this: “feminised Iraq, who was brutally raped by Saddam and rescued by America.”

Alex J. Bellamy says, “The public acceptance of the multiple metaphors of Lynch’s rescue relied upon, and needed to be unsuspicious of, deep seated gendered politics manipulated by the pentagon and the Bush Administration.”

These gendered politics strongly promoted and glorified a “hegemonic hyper-masculinity” and once again reminded us of their mission that they will do whatever it takes for the greater good by protecting the weak and powerless (even feminine?),

Lynch commented on her representation by the media as: “they used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff.”

[Alex J. Bellamy (2008). Security and the war on terror, Taylor & Francis. p. 42-49.]

[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/15/Jessica_Lynch.jpg accessed on 23/11/2010]

[http://turbo.indyposted.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/jessica-lynch.jpg accessed on 23/11/2010]

[http://www.debbieschlussel.com/archives/jessicalynchcartoon.jpg accessed 23/11/2010]

[http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/may/15/iraq.usa2 accessed 23/11/2010]

[http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/correspondent/3028585.stm accessed 23/11/2010]

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November 26, 2010 at 4:58 am

Posted in Uncategorized