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Analysis of Conflict Photography

War picture taking has existed because the nineteenth century, when Roger Fenton attempt to photograph the Crimean conflict in 1855. From the beginning of war picture taking questions have always been lifted about their representation of the truth. Compared to present day cameras the publicity time necessary to take a picture made certain that action injections weren't possible. The images could only be of lifeless on the battlefield or posed for.

This was visible throughout Alexander Gardeners photographs of the North american Civil. The photographer, who created the booklet Photographic Sketch Reserve of the Civil Warfare, was famed for staging various images. The image which was captioned, "The house of the rebel sharpshooter" was proved to get been staged. Civil war experts researched the image revealing that Gardner experienced dragged your body into the shot and twisted his mind for the camera. The firearm also within the image was put strategically by Gardner.

During World War two the staging of photos continued. The camcorders used during this war were a substantial improvement and allowed to use it shots to be taken but still questions were being asked about the authenticity of a few of the images. Yevgeny Khaldei's famous photograph of a Soviet soldier placing the Soviet Union's flag atop of the Reichstag building in Berlin was in fact staged. The image was considered three days after the Soviets had firstly located a flag at the top. The image was used at this angle to avoid demonstrating other Soviet soldiers who were looting and the military were handpicked by Khaldei.

Another of an image which is circled by rumours to be staged is the most reproduced photo on earth. Jim Rosenthal's image of the flag rising at Iwo Jima was claimed to be, "too perfect". The image taken was not the first picture of a flag being elevated. Marine Photographer got the first picture of the flag being lifted early in the day while the marine were under heavy fireplace. Rosenthal's photo was used later in the day and pictured a much larger flag.

There has always been a partiality of representation in major wars simply because usually only one side is reported on by journalists representing reports institutes from the same country as the military they report on. This begs the question of what is the goal of war photography. Could it be to inform the public or to provide morale for troops and the home public?

The reason for war picture taking has shifted throughout the years. During prior wars photographs were purely used to inform the public. Images were repaid to keep carefully the public kept up to date on what their troops were doing. In contrast, recent war picture taking, anticipated to censorship and embedding, has become only propaganda. Staged and improved shots are manufactured in order showing the armed service in an optimistic light, therefore limiting the offence they create to the observing public.

Other factors need to be considered, in order to find out whether conflict reporting is simply for morale of the united states or to advise the public, like the safety of the nation. For instance the World wars threatened national survival, so therefore reports and photos released and publicized were intended to create a feeling of morale and keep the war effort heading. This was mainly as everyone would have been affected by the conflict. , while wars being fought in foreign countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan business lead to a feeling of anonymity as it is out of immediate view of the public. Accounts and images released from these photojournalists need to carry a certain amount of truth to inform the public back their home countries.

The Vietnam Conflict is known as the war that was lost on Television. The mass media was allowed to publish a myriad of images. During Vietnam the press was given remarkable freedom to record the war without any authorities control. Vietnam was the most seriously covered war in which reporters weren't subject to extensive censorship. Pictures of decapitated bodies and civilian's accidental injuries were being transmit back America causing the public to think twice about the war that was taking place.

President at that time Richard Nixon stressed this problem by saying,

"In each evenings TV news and each morning's papers the warfare was reported challenge by fight, but little or no sense of the main purpose of the fighting was conveyed. Eventually this contributed to the impression that we were fighting in military quicksand, alternatively than toward an important and worthwhile objective. "

The intensity of the images was one of many factors that added to the American federal government losing the will to fight on in the warfare. Many journalists generally reported what they observed both negative and positive, according to Wayne Reston, "journalists didn't think it was their mission to serve the war effort". The flexibility they were given was interpreted in several different ways, with the majority reporting the conflict in a totally subjective way. Reston moves onto say, "for better or worse it was the journalist's views that prevailed with the general public, whose disenchantment forced an end to American engagement. "

This was especially prominent in independent professional photographers, as they would not need an editorial agenda to stick to. Inevitably during armed service briefings they would lose the thought of the 'big picture'. Though it can be argued that armed service briefings are often thinly disguised as propaganda anyhow.

The general position on confirming the war started to change as the battle advanced. The longer the discord continued the greater graphic the images and reports were. The unpleasant and disturbing reports from Vietnam as well as conscription and the fatality rate led to many people staging an anti warfare protest and voicing their concerns about the warfare. The largest which was at Washington DC when a reported two hundred and fifty thousand people compiled in joint protest.

Although it is claimed to be one of the adding factors Teacher Daniel Hallin of the College or university of California at NORTH PARK conducted a study into the Vietnam coverage. He concluded that the conflict coverage was almost completely sanitised on tv, due to the do not need to to cause any offence to any of the soldier's young families.

As a response to what took place in Vietnam, the censorship put upon the press by the United kingdom government during the Falklands warfare was at an extreme. Every inches of columns and pictures was required to be check completely by army representatives before it was then exceeded onto the Ministry of Defence, who then proceeded to check on it again before it could be printed. The censorship in the Falklands was so extreme that it led to the word "censored" actually being censored.

Due to the negative press that was created throughout Vietnam, the British isles authorities made a deliberate try to stop people knowing that which was going on. The federal government were keen to project an optimistic picture back again the British people and it do this by starving the press of any important information. This is obvious on the 14th of May 1982 when an Exocet missile struck HMS Sheffield. The armed forces ensured that the news headlines was delayed in achieving the reporters present. All reporters were also retained at arm's length any live footage repaid to Britain was shot from a couple of hundred metres away. Very few clear picture of HMS Sheffield were shown back in Britain.

Before the invasion of Iraq it was decided that journalists would be embedding among soldiers

The concept of embedding reporters was an effort proposed by the US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The idea was launched after primary pressure from the country's news media. The press were disappointed with the level of access that they were granted in earlier conflict zones. The concept of Embedding reporters had not been a fresh on but it was never carried out on this kind of scale before.

After deciding to embed reporters among soldiers Rumsfeld discussed the reasoning behind his decision,

"We need to notify the factual story-good and bad-before others seed the multimedia with disinformation and distortion, as they most certainly will continue steadily to do. Our people in the field need to inform our story-only commanders can ensure the advertising get to the storyplot alongside the troops. "

The main concept of embedding reporters is that they would identify with the soldiers around them.

Each journalist would be assigned to a business of military and would go through the war first submit the frontline. Each reporter would be released with armed forces equipment; they would also eat and sleeping alongside their respected military. By assigning a journalist to a troop, it supposed that the reporter could be positioned anywhere. This meant that the position of the embed could be made the decision by the armed forces. Around six hundred nationwide and local journalists were inserted with troops as they got into Iraq.

The system of embedding reporters tended to truly have a psychological effect after reporters leading to them to lose the ability to remain objective. The machine also resulted in reporters having tunnel vision especially when confirming on tactical procedure. Journalists would only see a couple of units doing his thing, and therefore only reporting upon what these were doing. Gordon Dillow an inserted reported said, "I fell deeply in love with 'my' marines. . . I wasn't reporting; the idea was I had been reporting the Marine grunt truth - which possessed also become my truth. "

The pursuing images and articles will be analysed using Roland Barthes theory of semiotics. Building upon Ferdinand de Saussure's linguistic theories Barthes constructed his own theory of semiotics. According to his newspaper Misconception today (1957) the theory consists of a signifier, the signified and the sign. The signifier is the term used to spell it out the image, which has been evaluated, and the signified is the term used to spell it out any ideas that are increased by the signifier, and the sign is the relationship of the signifier and the signified. Barthes also mentioned that anything signified by the signifier is culturally specific,

'Signifieds have a very close communication with culture, knowledge, record, and it is through them as they say, that the environmental world invades the system'. Barthes (1967)

This indicate that whatever has been signified may change as time passes and that differing people would interpret signifieds in another way. For example within an Indian culture cows are regarded as a sacred holy pet, while in european culture the cow is simply a professional of food. Because of the fact that all signified is culturally specific Barthes theory also takes into account the uses of denotation and connotation. Denotation is a literal information of the image or object being analyzed while connotation is the ideas from the image or object.

When analysing press photographs it's important to likewise incorporate the caption, as Barthes says that the image and the caption are 'two different set ups'. Barthes uses the term's anchorage and relay when referring press picture captions. Anchorage refers to when the written text within the caption, ' directs the reader through the signifieds of the image creating him to avoid some and obtain others. ' Barthes (1977). Relay identifies the addition of something in the caption, which is not actually within the image.

Barthes also contained in his theory of semiotics the component of myth. Myth is referred to as, "a second-order semiological system. " Barthes argues that signification is divided into two different sections connotations and denotation and misconception is signification in the connotative level. Misconception considers the signifiers in its fresh form.

Similar to signifieds myth is divided into two categories, the terminology thing which is the linguistic system and misconception itself which is referred to as metalanguage since it is a second language which discusses the first one. Barthes referred to the utilization of myth as,

"When he displays on a metalanguage, the semiologist no more needs to ask himself questions about the structure of the terminology object, he no more has to look at the information on the linguistic schema; he'll only need to know its total term or global signal. . . " (Barthes 1967)

When using Barthes theory two competing common myths can be attained about war. One myth is based upon Standard William Tecumseh Sherman's price that reads,

"It is only those who have neither fired a go nor listened to the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood. . . Battle is hell. "

The competing myth to this is the fact that battle can be fought in a morally satisfactory way. Making a battle morally manageable is minimising the chance to casualties and soldiers and hence politics and electoral risks to their experts.

By using various photos and articles from differing issues such as Vietnam, the Falklands, and Afghanistan, this essay will use Barthes theory of semiotics to check the theory that images from non inlayed reporters will support the misconception that conflict is hell and inserted photography lovers will show that conflict can be fought in a morally acceptable way.

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