Letter: Photographic art that devalues life

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The Independent Online
Sir: Photojournalism has been described as 'a necessary intrusion'. At its best, it evokes a compassion and rage rarely generated by the written word, which results in people taking action to change things. At its worst, it is cheap voyeurism, hurting people who have been reduced to mere subjects for a good 'shot', with angles and light taking priority over human suffering.

When the Independent published the two 'winners' in the 1992 World Press Photo Contest on Saturday, it sold out to the latter. That child in Somalia had a name, and her mother's mourning still goes on. God forbid that she ever finds out that her moment of private grief became a 'winning shot' for the Western press. And what of the family of the man about to have his head blown off in Bosnia? There is no mention of who he is, the reasons why he is being killed, or even when and where it happened. So much for human dignity.

When photo-news is viewed as an art form, human life is devalued. Surely the compassion fatigue of the Nineties has not sunk to these new depths?

Yours faithfully,


Luton, Bedfordshire