I’m not bothered by the photo by freelance photographer R. Umar Abbasi of a man about to die in a New York subway. Abbasi is being criticized for being everything from a Godless man who enjoyed the opportunity to make money off his photos of the death to a coward for not having made an attempt to save the doomed man.
He doesn’t deserve such criticism by readers. Only his peers can participate in the discussion about shooting first or helping first.
Their photos of the brutal execution of men suspected of being spies earned them similar condemnation as they took a shared Pulitzer Prize for the shocking series of violent photos.
Faas said he and Laurent left as they killing continued fearing they were the reason it was such a public display of civil justice. They later returned to see it had not ended with more men involved on both sides.
It is never easy. I’ve watched people die. Shot over the casket at the funerals of children who died at the hands of a murderer. Stood on a piece of plywood at a plane crash that was used to cover the collection of body parts. Sneaked through woods to shoot a deadly crime scene. Wished I had a more clear view of the body for a better photo.
At the same time, I have edited photos when I knew some of the selections would never make the wire because of sexual, violent or grisly content.
I have a very large collection of photos saved from my days as a wire service photographer. The folders are labeled “Sex, Violence, and Stupidity.”
Eddie Adams was haunted by the impact of his Saigon execution photo as was the shooter and this nation.
Criticism of what’s uncomfortable will always exist. The need to ignore the discomfort and tell the story will always exist.
Without it, we are less human.
Editors Note: I’m adding a link to the story about the impact of AP photographer Julie Jacobson’s dramatic and frightening photo of an American soldier dying in battle in Afghanistan.