Photojournalists: To Witness or Intervene?

20120802_Greg Marinovich--Mob Attack
Photo by Greg Marinovich

Photojournalists have to capture the visual story. But when is telling the story more important than stopping violence? This is the subject of a commented photoessay hosted on The Guardian. Eight photographers discuss the moral dilemma evident in specific photos. Feelings of guilt and shame are shared by all. Telling the story (and winning awards) often come at the expense of your subject’s misfortune. All supposedly for a greater good. Above, is South African photojournalist Greg Marinovich’s image of a man from one tribe being beaten to death by members of another tribe. “I was gutted that I’d been such a coward,” he says. Marinovich is also the co-author (with photojournalist Joao Siva) of The Big Bang Club, named after a group of photojournalists who documented the end of apartheid before the 1994 elections. Besides guilt, Marinovich has also taken a few hits from his subjects’ guns. Read more about Marinovich and the price of war photography on NPR and in this excerpt.