Skip to main content

Commercial photography began in 1839.  For technical reasons, it was largely restricted to studio portraits at first.  By the mid-1850s, the art had developed to the point where photographers were able to travel to the Crimean War and, under very difficult conditions, capture some campaign scenes.  

These images had not however become widely known in the United States by 1861, when the American Civil War began.  Photographers on the Union side started following the armies beginning in 1862.  The glass plate technology used then, while heavy, cumbersome and expensive, was able, if skillfully used, to produce high-resolution large-scale images.  Because of the difficulty assembling the glass plates, chemicals and so forth during wartime conditions, as well as the money necessary to finance a mobile photographic laboratory, there were few or no equivalent campaign photographers with the Confederate armies.

Mathew B. Brady (1822-1896) is perhaps the most famous photographer of the Civil  War, likely on account of his portraits of Lincoln and his popular photography gallery on Broadway in New York City.  

Mortar battery at Yorktown 1862
      Image 1: Federal mortar battery at Yorktown, VA 1862.
Brady hired photographers to go into the field with the army, and two of these were George N. Barnard and James F. Gibson, who covered McClellan's campaign in the Virginia peninsula from April to July 1861.  Barnard and Gibson captured a number of iconic photographs, including Image 1, a federal mortar battery emplaced for the Siege of Yorktown, an image which seems to announce the industrialization of warfare.  

In 1862 something of a photographic revolution was carried out, and that was to capture and display photographs taken of unburied bodies on a battlefield, something which had never been done before.  There were a number of reasons for this, mostly related to the fact that the Union armies in the eastern theater hadn't won any battles and were generally forced to retreat, with the photographers going along with them.

This changed on September 17, 1862, with the battle of Antietam.  Its effect on the public in the North was immediate.

Very briefly, this battle happened as a result of the federal defeat at the battle of Second Manassas which occurred on on August 28 and 30, 1862.  Lee, who was then only recently appointed to command the Confederate forces in Virginia, decided to gamble for high stakes by taking the southern army into Maryland, and maybe even Pennsylvania,with the hope, among other things, that by winning a victory in Northern territory, the North would give up the idea of being able to defeat the South, and perhaps France and, in particular, Britain, would recognize the Confederacy as a legitimate government, opening the way to purchases of weaponry and other assistance.

Lee had counted on McClellan, the federal commander, moving at his usual snail's pace, and divided his army in an complicated campaign plan.  In a weird twist of fate, somebody in the Confederate army left behind, in a abandoned southern camp, Lee's entire orders for the campaign.  On September 13, 1862, these were found by the Union army, curiously wrapped around three cigars. McClellan, presented with this discovery, actually moved with considerable dispatch, and by the morning of September 17, McClellan's 87,000 men had Lee and his 40,000 men almost cornered at the town of Sharpsburg.  

McClellan delayed just long enough to allow Lee sufficient time to organize a defense, and the resulting battle of Antietam became the single bloodiest one-day battle of all American history.  Lee was forced to retreat on September 18, with McClellan giving ineffective pursuit.

As a result, the conditions for photography of the battle aftermath were finally present and these were taken advantage of by photographer Alexander Gardner, who arrived on the scene on September 19.  Burial work begin that day, but by then the stench from the dead and rapidly decomposing bodies of 4,000 soldiers and hundreds of horses permeated the countryside and could be smelled from over a mile away.

This deterred neither Gardner nor a large number of souvenir collectors, who roamed freely over the battlefield.

      Image 2: Confederate dead, Battle of Antietam,
     along Hagerstown Pike.
Image 2 was taken by Gardner on September 19, 1863.  It shows bodies of Confederate troops killed early on the day of the battle (between 6:45 and 7:00 am).  

William Frassanito, in his book Antietam -- The Photographic Legacy of America's Bloodiest Day, has identified the near exact location of this photograph.  These bodies lie along the west side of the Hagerstown pike, which is not the dirt road on the left, but ran rather is on the right, on the other side of the fence.  A parallel rail fence runs down the east side of the pike.

Image 2 was taken five hundred yards north of the Dunker Church.  Frassanito believed these men to be from Louisiana, of the brigade of Genl. Wm. E. Starke (1814-1862), who was killed in the same fighting.  Frassito makes the point that the rail fence, seen here, was a formidable barrier to infantry attack, because it was not readily dismantled, and formed a line of defense, along which these men were killed by heavy fire from the 6th Wisconsin as well as cannon fire from federal guns posted to the north which outflanked the position.

Dead near Dunker Church
      Image 3: Confederate dead near the Dunker church.
Image #3 is possibly the most famous photograph of Antietam, was taken looking west towards the Dunker church and the Hagerstown Pike, and shows dead Confederates and an abandoned artillery limber (used in towing guns).  This was approximately the farthest point achieved by the Federal attack, which would have come from the right of the photograph.

When these and other images were placed on display, in the fall of 1862, at Brady's New York Gallery, a reporter for the New York Times wrote:

We recognize the battle-field as a reality, but it stands as a remote one.  It is like a funeral next door.  The crape on the bell-pull tells us there is a death in the house, and in the close carriage that rolls away with muffled wheels you know there rides a woman to whom the world is very dark now.  But you only see the mourners in the last of the long line of carriages – they ride very jollily and at their ease, smoking cigars in a furtive and discursive manner, perhaps, and, were it not for the black gloves they wear, which the deceased was wise and liberal enough to furnish.  It might be a wedding for all the world would know.  It attracts your attention, but it does not enlist your sympathy.

But it is very different when the hearse stops at your own door, and the corpse is carried out over your own threshold – you know whether it is a wedding or a funeral then, without looking at the color of the gloves worn.  Those who lose friends in battle know what battle-fields are …

Mr. Brady has done something to bring home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war.  If he has not brought home bodies and laid them in our door-yards and along streets, he has done something very like it.

       Image 4: African-Americans reburying Union dead
      at Cold Harbor.
By 1864 a terrific amount of killing had occurred, and the war, which had begun as a rather amateurish affair, had grown into professionalized slaughter and destruction.  Nowhere was this better symbolized than in Image 4, taken in later 1864 or early 1865, which shows African-Americans reburying federal dead killed at the Battle of Cold Harbor (May 31-June 12, 1864).  This photograph combines the business-like burial operations, with the skulls heaped on the litter.  The boot on a skeletal foot, and a canteen mock the humanity of the dead.  The African American man at left looks on calmly -- he is used to all this.  I suspect it is likely that the booted leg jutting off the stretcher, and the canteen on the right, were set up by the photographer as a way of showing the military nature of the corpses. Possibly even the skulls were lined up.

Gardner took just 70 photographs at Antietam.  Each one required careful composition and preparation.  The technology was expensive and couldn't be wasted at random.  Nor for the most part could moving objects be portrayed, at least not without blurring.

Now every soldier has a camera, rapid photographs can be made and sent around the world, and so we have events like Abu Ghraib or the recent photographs of U.S. soldiers posing with body parts of the enemy.  This should not be surprising to anyone -- this is war, not a tea party.  No need, and really no justification for us to be shocked like the New Yorkers of 1862.  

But just as then, photography has a way of stripping off the illusions of war and exposing the reality.  

Update: I am not justifying Abu Gharib or trophy photography of enemy casualties.  I only point out that war will bring with it crimes and brutality, some of that will be photographed, and just like in 1862, we had better become accustomed to seeing such photographs so long as we wage war.  The only alternative, to make peace, or perhaps, at least less war, doesn't seem to be likely to occur.

Originally posted to Plan 9 from Oregon on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 06:07 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  A couple things... (12+ / 0-)

    I think this is a nice diary, but people should know that as you pointed out that photography was very expensive then.  Because of that many of the pictures of the dead were not true representations, but actually reconstructions.

    Matthew Bradey had corpses and equipment "posed" to capture more of what he thought the public wanted to see.  It isn't a true representation, for the most part, of what had happened.

    Something else strikes me in your diary...I'm not sure that equating what Brady was doing to what those soldiers were doing posing with the dead is actually fair.

    Bradey wanted to make money for sure...and he did.  But he also wanted to expose people to the real face of the war.  These soldiers are engaged in something more terrible...they are collecting trophies and dishonoring their enemy.  It's not the same thing at all.

    •  It remains quite the headscratcher to me (7+ / 0-)

      how this is so very much worse than killing them in the first place . . ..

      These soldiers are engaged in something more terrible...they are collecting trophies and dishonoring their enemy.  It's not the same thing at all.
      •  seriously? (0+ / 0-)

        how fucking disgusting to say that.

        -You want to change the system, run for office.

        by Deep Texan on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 06:44:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  To say what? (8+ / 0-)

          Heck, if somebody killed me, I'd be MUCH more concerned about being killed than whether they later pissed on my body or cut off my head and posed with it . . .

          •  It's not about the dead... (10+ / 0-)

            It's about the living.  

            Bradey wanted to show the effects of war.  His images do not evoque "pride" in killing others, but a sense of loss and destruction.

            Young soldiers posing with dead bodies and parts of dead bodies is about dehumanizing your enemy and turning them into animals.  

            Bradey never did that.

            •  Well, that's what war is all about (9+ / 0-)

              I don't have the close military contacts I did in the 80s, but back then it was no secret that recruits were massively brainwashed to dehumanize Soviets . .. . . (now I imagine similar efforts are underway, just with slightly different objects).

              •  I am in contact with a Vietnam vet (11+ / 0-)

                He remembers that the training he received at the hands of the military was to make his 19-year old self see the "enemy" as a thing of disgust. This was done through songs and chants and lectures about the creatures they would find there and what they would do to them.

                How else do you get young people to embrace killing other people? Why do they draft smooth-brained youngsters they can mold?

                There is a student in my high school class right now who says his recruiter has told him that the purpose of basic training is to break him and reform him--that he will forget everything he ever learned in high school. Sounds like military training hasn't changed all that much, does it?

                Leon Panetta talked about our mission being to win hearts and minds. Is anyone that stupid/naive to believe that invading a country and killing the citizens is the way to win hearts and minds? That, my friends, is definitely not the purpose of war. Anyone who believes this nonsense is seriously deluded by the pure cynicism of this statement. Black is white. Up is down.

                "Do your best, and keep your sense of humor."--My Mom

                by mainely49 on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 08:45:07 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  How to get people to kill? (12+ / 0-)

                  Good question!  Luckily we live in a country that's figured that out:

                  Healthy members of most species have a powerful, natural resistance to killing their own kind. Animals with antlers and horns fight one another by butting heads. Against other species they go to the side to gut and gore. Piranha turn their fangs on everything, but they fight one another with flicks of the tail. Rattlesnakes bite anything, but they wrestle one another.

                  When we human beings are overwhelmed with anger and fear our thought processes become very primitive, and we slam head on into that hardwired resistance against killing. During World War II, we discovered that only 15-20 percent of the individual riflemen would fire at an exposed enemy soldier (Marshall, 1998). You can observe this in killing throughout history, as I have outlined in much greater detail in my book, On Killing, (Grossman, 1996), in my three peer-reviewed encyclopedia entries, (Grossman, 1999a, 1999b, and Murray, 1999) and in my entry in the Oxford Companion to American Military History (1999).

                  That's the reality of the battlefield. Only a small percentage of soldiers are willing and able to kill. When the military became aware of this, they systematically went about the process of “fixing” this “problem.” And fix it they did. By Vietnam the firing rate rose to over 90 percent (Grossman, 1999a).

                  The Methods in this Madness: Brutalization

                  The training methods the military uses are brutalization, classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and role modeling. Let us explain these and then observe how the media does the same thing to our children, but without the safeguards.

                  •  My students have certainly (6+ / 0-)

                    been the media?

                    In our discussion of Jim Crow this year, we viewed parts of the PBS video "Slavery by Another Name." What I saw horrified me. They didn't respond the same way I did.

                    "That's what people do." "People are just racist; that's how they are." "White people just suck."

                    They are jrs and srs in high school so: (a) they are reluctant to show their feelings; (b) they are ashamed of their own complicity; (c) they don't yet experience empathy; (d) they really are unfeeling and uncaring and have already seen so much violence that nothing can penetrate their consciousness; (e) they don't want to share their feelings in class for fear of being ridiculed for being soft...I am not sure to what degree all or any of these apply. Of course each student is different, but I do know that none of them responded the way I did. At least not openly in class.

                    As for what will happen to some of them when they are "trained" by our military, well, that makes me very sad for all of us.

                    I will look for your book. Take care.

                    "Do your best, and keep your sense of humor."--My Mom

                    by mainely49 on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 12:02:12 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  The illusion is that we're an army of park rangers (7+ / 0-)

            just trying to tidy up the campground.  The Afghanistan photographs don't fit into that thought pattern -- could our troops really be be posing with body parts of enemy dead?  As if that was the worst thing ever done in this war.  

            You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

            by Cartoon Peril on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 06:56:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Roadbed Guy - there is honor even in war (5+ / 0-)

            A professional soldier will respect his adversaries. and the rules of war. There is code of conduct even in combat. Under that code if your enemy is wounded and no longer a threat you treat them, not kill them. And if they have been killed in battle you honor their bravery, and sacrifice, and treat their bodies with respect.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 08:09:58 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I think the reality is soldiers always pose with (6+ / 0-)

      dead bodies of the enemy, piss on them, or whatever.  Not every soldier, but enough of them.  That's the reality and we'd better get used to it.  

      Gardner certainly captured several photographs of Union soldiers posing with Confederate dead, not in the Afghanistan / Abu Ghraib trophy-style however.   Here's one of Bloody Lane, with Union soldier on left:

      Dead in Bloody Lane

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 06:45:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My husband and son are reenactors (25+ / 0-)

        and about 3 years ago, a campaigner-style event (no public allowed, no audience) they restaged the Bloody lane.  Because, just then, they were portraying Confederates, they got the chance to be flanked, and they "died" together, my son falling over and lying on top of my husband (who later complained that he was getting heavy and I was feeding him too well).  

        By chance, I was reading the message boards a few days later, and found a post by a guy who had been there on the Union side.  He wrote that, as the fighting progressed and it was obvious that the Confederates would not surrender, a sense of horrific sadness took him, as well as an overwhelming respect he felt for the men of both sides who had fought there almost 150 years before.  As the last Confederate "died" and the sounds of gunfire stilled, he realized that he was standing there with tears running down his face.  He looked around and every man with him was the same.  It was the closest, he wrote, that he had ever come to touching history, and to understanding the scale of tragedy and waste that war wrought.

        "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

        by DrLori on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 07:14:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's Frassanito. Great book. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, kaliope

    [T]here is no more dangerous experiment than that of undertaking to be one thing before a man's face and another behind his back. - Robert E. Lee

    by SpamNunn on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 08:20:58 AM PDT

  •  Not to make an excuse, but the 4th Brigade (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, the fan man, kaliope

    of the 82nd lost 23 brothers to IED's on that tour.  I don't see why the Times had to publish these now, when we are so close to leaving, and put the 2nd Brigade in deeper jeopardy.  Do they really need to sell papers that badly?

    [T]here is no more dangerous experiment than that of undertaking to be one thing before a man's face and another behind his back. - Robert E. Lee

    by SpamNunn on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 08:26:12 AM PDT

    •  Hard to say, but if there's to be an end to this (7+ / 0-)

      war, people are going to need to be confronted with what it's all about.  Since for example taxes weren't raised to pay for the goddamn thing, really I see no way of bring this home to people other than by photography.

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 08:31:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can publishing the photos really inflame (9+ / 0-)

        The situation worse than the knowledge that the bodies were urinated on? I don't know. I have a lot of friends in the military, and their safety is my utmost concern. But I just don't know how much more inflamed the situation can really become, given what's already out there. One of our soldiers murdered civilians, including children,  in a crazed rampage after all.

        Most Americans feel no absolutely ill effects of us being at war. I get tired of this  empty "support our troops" rhetoric that has absolutely NOTHING to back it up. Not even the slightest bit of interest in what our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines experience there or at home.

        Oh, but American public's fury so self-righteously ensues when someone with PTSD acts out even slightly  --and it's directed at the service member, not the system they support with their indifference.

        If publishing photos helps shock American citizens into realizing that a decade- long war with multiple extended deployments  numbs the soul and ultimately does OUR country more harm than good, then I think the decision to publish them may be a good one, despite the disrespect for the victims pictured.

        Even here, the blathering about "well, it's a volunteer army." and elsewhere, "we"ll, they're Taliban" shows the disconnect:   No human beings deserve to be treated like fodder for an endless war machine.

        © grover

        So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

        by grover on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 09:11:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Sometimes people need to see the brutality (9+ / 0-)

    of war, and how anyone and everyone responds to it before they wake up and realize what's really happening, just as in Brady's case. It's much too hard for those of us lucky enough to be sitting here with no family directly involved to completely forget that there's any killing and maiming and other atrocities going on anywhere. Most people I know have no idea how many places in the world are actively engaged in 'war' right now, and no matter what we say, soldiers will always act dishonorably sometimes. To act as though we are shocked indicates very little comprehension of what war 'is about.'

  •  Brady & Corporal w/ an I-phone not the same (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the fan man, lgmcp, Cartoon Peril, kaliope

    Just not the same thing at all.

    The recent trophy photos are about a breakdown in command, a failure to properly supervise and train young soldiers.

    Photos of war reflect failure in a complete sense....but we don't need to see corpses disrespected to get that horror.

    What we need is a media that actually publishes photos of what war is: death, terror, destruction.

    We don't need a demoralized military letting ignorant yahoos take and post trophy photos.

  •  No Need To Publish These Except To Sell Papers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, kaliope

    This is the American media gorging itself on war porn.  It sells.  If it bleeds its a lead.  

    That is why we can't get decent news coverage of anything but car chases, videotapes of attempted bridge suicides, shootings etc.

    "Hidden in the idea of radical openness is an allegiance to machines instead of people." - Jaron Lanier

    by FDRDemocrat on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 11:49:37 AM PDT

    •  Oops meant recent Afghan photos, not Brady n/t (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Peril, divineorder, kaliope

      "Hidden in the idea of radical openness is an allegiance to machines instead of people." - Jaron Lanier

      by FDRDemocrat on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 11:50:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In general I am not much for images of violence (6+ / 0-)

        which means I can't even watch most movies.  

        But I think sanitized views of war by a tame "embedded" media make war far more palatable.   When I was little, my parents used to send me out of the room because they didn't want me upset by the footage from Vietnam -- but they DID want themselves, and other adults upset by that footage.  

        I think if we're willing to support war, we should have to see it.  

        I eat meat, too, but I think it's a disgrace to criminalize photographers who expose the realities of factory farming.   If those images turn my stomach, maybe my stomach needs to be turned.

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 02:01:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  regardless of war or aesthetic value it's both art (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril

    and porn, and as such is not (ever) journalism because of the manipulation, digital or not.

    trophy photography of enemy casualties

    slutty voter for a "dangerous president"; Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Sciant terra viam monstrare." 政治委员, 政委!

    by annieli on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 12:46:58 PM PDT

  •  The Civil War was one with a place for moral (4+ / 0-)

    convictions. In a very abstract sense, if you separated the actual fighting from the conceptual struggle, you knew that the North was just in fighting the slavers in the South. Even if they didn't eradicate the racial superiority mindset entirely, even if they had to pay for reconstruction later, even if diplomacy could have won out had those belligerent racists not started shelling Fort Sumter, the right thing to do was not allow half the country to split off just to have slaves.

    Afghanistan at this point does not have that moral trailer hitch. We're there because we're there. And we can't leave because we're there. There's no justifiable abstraction of the war - Bin Laden is dead, AQ is in tatters, terrorism has been shown to be best combated with police action and quiet operations as opposed to regional warfare. It's a morally devoid war, among a world in which no war is truly just. Wars should always be filmed and photographed as to keep the public from thinking it is anything other than hell on earth.

    Lying cowardice is a requirement for being a conservative. If you're not a lying scumbag coward, they won't let you in.

    by Fauxton on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 03:32:17 PM PDT

    •  The war just seems to go on because it has to. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I don't think anyone believes in it any more.  And after the mass murder and the bombings (which are pretty much the same thing to the people of the country), I don't see how we can really hope to make any headway with them.

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 05:42:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The un-reality of photograhy (4+ / 0-)

    As a photographer, I've been caught up in the news about war trophy photos. I have some acquaintances who were aspiring Bang Bang club members and relished their assignments as war photographers until the brutality of what they were attempting to capture was laid out in all of its charnal glory.

    One thing too that really strikes me is that most people don't realize how much skewing of reality is accomplished by such simple actions as framing and composition. Unlike Scottsmen, there are no truly realistic photos. There is always a human mind that is interpreting the scene around them and applying the camera as a tool to capture their own feelings about what they are seeing. Like all other subjective art, the artist is the soul of the piece, not the tool used to create it.

    This has been showing in dramatic effect during the long Israel-Palistine bloodbath by a number of photographers who have been turning the lens on their fellow reporters. Being able to take a step back and see the decisions made while making a photograph are sometimes just as important as the photo itself.

    A single boot askew on a pile of rubble looses some significance when a few feet to the left of the scene is the fallen sign reading "Smith's Shoe Store."

    Not really sure what I'm trying to say here. Perhaps buyer beware. Photos are NEVER what they seem.

  •  Cartoon Peril, I'm confused by your Image ##. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril
    Image 1 was taken by Gardner on September 19, 1863.  It shows bodies of Confederate troops killed early on the day of the battle (between 6:45 and 7:00 am).
    No, Image 1's caption says "Image 1: Federal mortar battery at Yorktown, VA 1862." No dead bodies show up until Image 2.

    So, are we missing an image, say, Image 1A, to match the first quote in this comment?

    In all other respects, I appreciate your diary enormously.

  •  People, kept from the sight of carnage (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, 417els

    are able to willfully ignore it, or make war into something it is not - valiant, brave, or even necessary.
    Americans have been kept from the disgusting brutality of our adventures into Iraq and Afghanistan. And when we hear of things like Abu Ghraib, or torture, or pissing on the dead, somehow the media is able to attack those who show or tell of it, as being un-American.
    George W. Bush kept Americans from seeing the dear coming home, as if "out of sight, out of mind" would make things less bad.
    During Vietnam, Americans didn't particularly care...until "Uncle Walter" chose to start showing the war in all it's "glory." American sentiment turned.
    If Americans want to send their youth to be killed, then they MUST be forced to see what that choice brings. War is bloody, brutal, ugly. It is when the gates of hell open.
    And dead soldiers on the ground are not the "other", they are human beings - no matter which side they are on.
    If we're going to go to war, if we're going to send people off to kill and be killed, it better be for a damn good reason.

    Isn’t it ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

    by MA Liberal on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 07:06:03 AM PDT

  •  It is normal in wartime (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril

    for each side to launch a tremendous propaganda campaign. Slogans and emotions need to be ramped up to the point where people are hungry for enemy blood. Not just the soldiers but the entire citizenry.

    The NYT and the TV networks helped in this effort during the run up to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Beating the drums of war, getting people all riled up. As Goebbels noted, this is a fairly easy thing for a nation's leaders to do.

    But sustaining such enthusiasm, self-sacrifice and blood lust over years and years is more difficult. Especially when there's not much to show for it. Photos and videos of the carnage and barbarism which are inherent in any war can be censored only partially - and thanks to internet technology, more and more of these images (and accounts) are leaking through military and civilian filters.

    "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." - Oliver Hardy

    by native on Fri Apr 20, 2012 at 08:59:32 AM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site