How powerful can a photograph be? I recently looked into an article and video on Reuters that focused on the photo taken of the dead Syrian toddler who washed up on the Turkish Beach. The name of the boy was Aylan Kurdi and was now a known individual to the whole world. He became a symbol for the fallen Syrian refugees. Images like these are what are evoking emotion within the viewers, an emotional response that may help spark change, or at least start a dialog about the events taking place.
Nilufer Demir, Turkey, 2015
In the Reuters article the photographer, Nilufer Demir, who took the picture was quoted saying, “I hope the impact this photo has created will help bring a solution.” This is clearly her vision for her photography and can be applied to many photographers in her field. This is why Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros gave their lives in Libya. They wanted to expose the hidden in the hope of change.
They continue to compare this photograph to others, such as the Chinese man standing in Tiananmen Square blocking the tank from moving forward, the 1968 picture of the Biafran woman breastfeeding her starving baby, and nine-year-old naked Vietnamese girl, Phan Thi Kim Phuc, after a bombing. These are all images that are burned into one or the other generations mind. They become significant because they evoke an emotional response. This is what makes them so compelling.
Huynh Cong “Nick” Ut,Vietnam, 1972
Stuart Franklin, Tiananmen Square, 1989
These images are personalizing the situations that they are capturing. We now feel as if we were standing by as the man carried the drowned toddler out of the water. It takes place once far from us and puts it at our local newsstand, our computers and phones, and even our homes. These photographers are doing this on purpose because they want us to see the horrors of the world. We can no longer be hidden from the truth because that will get us into more trouble then we are already in.