In the past fifteen years, there have been a few major changes to how Western photography is contextualized. A new era of war photography in the twenty first century has begun, and it is a large departure from its roots. War photography no longer means just combat photography. The definition has changed to include embedding with soldiers, civilians, and examining the aftermath of a war.
With the introduction and widespread use of digital photography, war photography became faster paced, and more accessible to the general population. The digital age of photography made it easier for people with little photography experience to take their own pictures and have them published. People do not need a darkroom to make prints; they can use their own computer. The combination of these two things gave rise to the new “citizen journalism”. This means that ordinary people who take pictures and have new access through the Internet to publish them. They also don’t have a news agency or publication that enforces censorship upon them, and it is a positive direction to add new perspectives to war photography. However, it is also detrimental to have people without proper training entering dangerous conflict zones.
The changes that happened at the turn of the century also mark a large generational shift in cultural understanding and war photography. People of my generation have only ever seen foreign policy completely centered on the Middle East. I think this has created a skewed understanding of what conflict can mean, and how it can really affect people on the ground.
The books that I chose to add to the list of Library Reader Resources contribute diverse perspectives and interpretations of what war photography has become and can be.
Geert van Kesteren, Baghdad Calling. (Episode Publishers, 2008) [TR820.5.I72 .K482 2008]
Geert van Kesteren, Why Mister, Why? (Art Publishers, 2004) [TR820.6.I72 .V35 2004]
Tim Hetherington, Infidel. (Distributed Art Publishers, 2010) [TR820.6.H49 2010]
Leo Rubinfien, Wounded Cities. (Corcoran Gallery of Art, 2008) [TR140.R38 2008]
Susan Meiselas, In History. (International Center of Photography, 2008) [TR820.M45 2008]
Suzanne Opton, Soldier. (Light Work, 2006) [TR680.O68 2006]
Joel Meyerowitz, Aftermath. (Phaidon Press, 2006) [TR820.5.U6 .M491 2006]
Monica Haller, Riley and His Story: Me and My Outrage: You and Us. (Onestar Press, 2009) [TR140.R49.H35 2009]
Jenny Matthews, Women and War. (University of Michigan Press, 2003) [TR820.6.M38 2003]
Benjamin Lowy, Iraq Perspectives. (Duke University Press, 2011) [TR820.6.L693 2011]
Sadie Hope-Gund is the Library Intern at ICP this summer for two months. She just completed her first year at Brown University, and is looking forward to writing for Monsters & Madonnas more in the coming weeks!