Tag Archive: military

Worth a look: War Torn – An Iraq Veteran’s Story

Wall Street Journal photo editor Matthew Craig and photographer Brandon Thibodeaux recently produced a powerful multimedia piece focusing on Iraq veteran Ian Welch’s life in the US after an artillery round exploded near him during the 2003 fight for Baghdad. The piece was produced over the last year and combines still photography, video, and audio interviews, offering an intimate look at the way Welch and those who surround him cope with life after his traumatic time in Iraq. Be sure to watch the editing and sound design around the 6 minute mark when Welch’s girlfriend discusses the difficulties of dealing with his PTSD. The piece, especially the final minute as Welch describes his fears for the future, is a strong reminder of the long-lasting toll of the past decade of war. You can read the accompanying article here: For Wounded Vet, Love Pierces the Fog of War

My Lai massacre photographer admits he destroyed pictures

In 1969, Haeberle told The Plain Dealer that he had made no effort to photograph actual killings. He evaded the issue during interviews with Army investigators.

Last week, he said something distinctly different. “I shot pictures of the shooting,” he said. “But those photographs were destroyed.”

By the Army?

“By me.”

-an interview with Ron Haeberle by the Cleveland Plain Dealer

This story’s a bit old, but it’s the first I’ve encountered it. Ron Haeberle, US Army photographer during the Vietnam War, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2009 that he took photos of soldiers in the act of killing during the My Lai massacre but destroyed the negatives. Haeberle’s photos of the event were the first published evidence of the massacre, but did not show any identifiable soldiers. In the video embedded above (and on the Plain Dealer site) Haeberle states that he destroyed any such photos, not wanting to point fingers at particular soldiers and feeling a shared sense of guilt for being part of the coverup of the incident.

David Quigg’s post on the subject, where I first heard about this, makes an interesting point about the journalistic value of the remaining photos: because photos showing clear evidence of the killing were destroyed, the remaining photos no longer serve to tell the full and true story of the event. As Haeberle says in the interview, the surviving photos “aren’t worth anything unless somebody actually talks about them.” This provides a clear example of how factual and unmanipulated photos can nevertheless deceive the viewer into thinking a full account has been given when the real story, in fact, remains hidden or obscured. I should be careful here to acknowledge that Haeberle’s decision to take any photos and come forward with some remains an important, courageous, and valuable act.

Seymour Hersh‘s written account of the event for the St. Louis Post Dispatch won the Pulitzer for International Reporting in 1970.

Michael Kamber talks about increasing military censorship in Iraq

Michael Kamber, contract photographer for the New York Times, talks with BagNewsNotes about military censorship in Iraq. The gradual increase of censorship is troubling–Kamber describes that at first, anything was fair game to shoot, but gradually car bomb scenes were off-limits, then hospitals, then morgues, then prisoners, then wounded soldiers, and so on. Kamber makes a great point, saying, “I think that we need to publish those photos for history even if we can’t get them in the newspaper today.” Head over to BagNewsNotes for discussion.

Worth a look: Trevor Paglen’s Limit-Telephotography examining top secret US military activity

Morning Commute (Gold Coast Terminal) - Las Vegas, NV - Distance ~ 1 mile - 6:26 a.m.

Morning Commute (Gold Coast Terminal) - Las Vegas, NV - Distance ~ 1 mile - 6:26 a.m.

Trevor Paglen‘s work on the hidden aspects the American military is well worth a look. Peeking into the hidden corners of the American military, his work previously has focused on the patches worn by top secret military units (available as a book, as well), code names used by secret agents, CIA black sites, and signatures found on documents used during “extraordinary rendition”. His new work, Limit-Telephotography, focuses on top secret military facilities that are located in some of the most remote areas of the United States. Using astronomy equipment, Paglen is able to take photographs from miles away, giving the images a hazy quality that speaks volumes about just how little we know about the top secret and confidential American government operations. Be sure not to miss the accounts of Paglen’s trips to photograph these sites, too.

Required supplemental reading: the Washington Post’s two-year long investigation into Top Secret America.

(via The Spinning Head)

Rolling Stone reporter Afghan embed approval rescinded


“There is no right to embed,” Lapan said. “It is a choice made between units and individual reporters, and a key element of an embed is having trust that the individuals are going to abide by the ground rules. So in that instance the command in Afghanistan decided there wasn’t the trust requisite and denied this request.” -DOD spokesman Colonel David Lapan


Mother Jones has good coverage of recent developments in Mike Hastings coverage of the war in Afghanistan. The Rolling Stone reporter, previously in the news for his explosive story on General Stanley McChrystal, had been approved for an embed to report from Afghanistan, but as he announced on twitter, it has been unapproved.

Worth a Look: Two from BLDGBLOG

The BLDGBLOG is worth bookmarking, and they had two related posts this week that needed to be seen here. The first image below was published tonight and is a remarkable flash picture taken in 1944 of Stonehenge, and the accompanying post refers back in an interesting way to another piece, with the illustration of military tactics, published a couple of days ago. Click back through the links or the images to see the original articles.

Stonehenge at Night, 1944:

And the second was Military Chiaroscuro:

Read through the posts and you’ll see some interesting ideas on the research of light as a tactic for war and reconnaissance. Very interesting to consider.
I’ll also remind you that BLDGBLOG has a great interview (at least his second) with photographer Richard Mosse about his project “Breach”, photographing Saddam Hussein’s old palaces in Iraq. Great stuff all around

Interview: Jeremy M. Lange – The War at Home

I first met Jeremy M. Lange at a lecture we were both attending at ICP in 2006. We’d corresponded by email before, and he somehow recognized me in the crowd. I left New York later that year, and shared my last meal in the city with him. He continued freelancing in the city for a while before moving to North Carolina, producing along the way a strong and varied body of work, ranging from (legal) kidnappers for hire to Mexican presidential politics to barbershops to religious faith. His recent project, “The War At Home” is a wide-ranging piece covering the Iraq and Afghanistan wars from the perspective of those in the US. Do yourself a favor, and spend some time on his site. I asked Lange if he’d be willing to share his perspective on “The War at Home” over email. The discussion is below:

dvafoto: First, for our readers who might not be familiar with your work, where are you based and what publication do you work for? What sort of time on the job do you have to work on personal projects? How open is your publication to your story pitches?

Jeremy M. Lange: I am based in Durham, North Carolina, my hometown, which I returned to in 2007 after 3 years of school, 6 months in Mexico, and 3.5 years in New York City. I have a slightly odd arrangement in that I am a staff, or contract photographer, for the Independent Weekly, an alt weekly that covers the Research Triangle area of NC. I work 6 months a year guaranteed for them, one month on, one month off, and freelance the other 6, but I am able to take freelance jobs for all 12 months of the year, provided that I have all my responsibilities taken care of for the paper on the months I am on. The Indy is great in many ways, but especially in that me and the other photographer have almost complete artistic freedom in how we shoot the stories we are assigned and we get a little more time to invest in denser stories because it is a weekly. Deadlines do build up, but we have the ability to work our schedules out as we please as long as everything is done on time. Also, we can pitch stories at will and with a good argument, they tend to run them, as long as the story fits into the general guidelines of the paper, news, social justice, culture, it is pretty broad. Personal projects are much more easily blended into the paper than in others I have heard of. It can still be hard to find the time, and money, for personal projects, but that is always the case it seems. I think it falls more on you to make that time than anything else.

As a freelancer, I work a lot for the New York Times, who I have been working with since I lived in NYC and ran around for the Metro section, RIP, several days a week. They were the first real paper I worked for and have been great to me over the last few years. Thanks.

Other than that, I fill out my schedule with other editorial jobs, band shoots, portraits, whatever comes down the pipe. I think in smaller markets we are all forced to generalize a bit, but it is fun in that I learn new things from shooting different types of stories all the time. My background is in news and documentary, but I really enjoy shooting just about anything, with a few exceptions. Challenges keep you on your toes and I like the idea of photographing James Taylor one day and Christmas tree farms the next.

What got you started on “War at Home”? When did you know you were on to a bigger story with so many different threads to follow?

I met a soldier named Kristian Hofeller when I lived in Bushwick, Brooklyn in 2006. A package was misdelivered to my apartment and I rode up the street to drop it off at the right house and while speaking to the lady who answered the door, she mentioned that her son had just gotten back from Iraq. I asked if he might want to talk to me about it and take some photos, and I gave her my number and he called me couple of days later. We met at his house and drank some coffee and talked a little but he seemed sort of uncomfortable in his mom’s house so we went out to his truck and he basically broke down the last 5 years of his life to me. 1st responder to the WTC, off to Afghanistan, got in some trouble there, back home, marital problems, divorce, back to Iraq, back home… it blew my mind. He must have talked for over an hour with me just sitting in his truck listening and saying nothing really, I mean what the hell did I know about that? He got in some legal trouble while back in the US and therefore could not get a job, or at least a decent one, so he was considering going back to the military fulltime, he was on Reserve, or with a private contractor. They, the contractors, were offering him big money, he came from a blue collar family, but he did not really want to go. He had lost his wife and friends because of the war, but he really had no other options. We smoked and sat in the truck and he talked and then I went home, saying we would get together soon and shoot some photos. I had no idea what to do with what he told me, so I wrote down as much as I could remember, this is why an art degree can be a disadvantage, I should have taken notes, but I got it down for the most part, I like to listen.

We met again a couple of weeks later and went all the way out in Long Island to shoot some guns with an Army buddy and an older guy from his neighborhood. He would not really let me make any photos of him, but I got a shot of an Osama bin Laden target in a sand pit that has stuck around through all the edits, as well as one of his truck with a backwards “American Hero” emblem in the windshield. So I shot some really cool guns and we talked a lot, Kristian, me and his Army buddy, and then they took me home. We never talked again, he did not return my calls after that, not sure why, but I heard he went back to Iraq not long after. It stuck with me but I was trying to hustle in NYC and that was it for a while.

Not long after I got back to NC I shot a NYT story about a private contractor killed in Iraq, Brent Gray. We went to the grave with his wife and sister and some friends and then to a bar where we met some other guys who had served with him. I was so interested in what they were talking about and how little I knew about it. This is 5 or 6 years after we invaded Afghanistan and 3 after Iraq and I knew next to nothing about what people here were going through. I am not from a military family, but I have always been interested in it, the guns, the adventure and was about one stamp away from Marine basic training after high school. So I started looking around to find stories related to returning soldiers and other aspects of the war’s affects on the country and realized I had a huge pile of ideas.

Your “War at Home” project is pretty far-reaching. What ties it all together? What’s it about?
Read on »

A new photo in the White House

Andrew Craft / Fayetteville Observer - First Lady Michelle Obama looks at a photograph that was given to her as a gift from the city as Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne introduces her Thursday at the Fayetteville Arts Center on Hay Street.  The framed photograph was taken by Fayetteville Observer photographer Andrew Craft.

Andrew Craft / Fayetteville Observer - First Lady Michelle Obama looks at a photograph that was given to her as a gift from the city as Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne introduces her Thursday at the Fayetteville Arts Center on Hay Street. The framed photograph was taken by Fayetteville Observer photographer Andrew Craft.

A lot of photojournalists hope their photos can make a difference. Informing the public is one avenue, having powerful people who make decisions see the photos is another. Andrew Craft‘s great photo, of a military family saying goodbye as the husband and father ships off for deployment, will be doing the latter. He talks a little about it here and his paper mentions the event here.

The city of Fayetteville, North Carolina, decided to give Craft’s photo, taken as a staff photographer for the the Fayetteville Observer, to Michelle Obama on her recent visit to the city. Receiving the photo, a stark portrayal of the domestic toll of the war in Iraq, Michelle Obama said, “Thank you…this picture is just moving. It says so much, and it is going up in my office tomorrow.” Video of the speech at C-Span.

The American military according to Platon

Platon for the New Yorker - Service, Summer 2008

Platon for the New Yorker - Service, Summer 2008

Just got a look at this great work by Platon for the New Yorker. The usual style, for the portraits, but I’d never really seen his documentary style beyond a few so-so examples on his website. These pictures, though, capture the malaise, exuberance, uncertainty, confidence, and all the other emotions wrapped up in America’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. The kid in the uniform struck me as overly cutesy and sentimental at first, but the accompanying text discovers the significance of the shot: Sergeant John McKay, a marine whose uncle and grandfather were marines, and whose three-year-old son posed in uniform at the wedding of a cousin, also a marine, said, “He’s just waiting till he’s eighteen.” He went on, “I’m scared for him, but if he wants to do it I’ll support him.” There’s some audio from Platon about the project, too. If you haven’t already, check out Platon talking about his shoot with Putin over at the World Press site. Click on 2008 and then the thumbnail of Putin.

(via APADnews)