By Radu Sigheti
As I prepared pictures to submit to a contest I could not stop thinking that all these past years the main photo contests chose their winners from among the pictures depicting wars and conflicts. I think that this year will be the same, due to the many bloody events around the world.
I do not know why those pictures are still chosen, they show horrors. They show the pain of the helpless victims and the joy of the gun-toting bullies. They show, some in a dignified way, some in a gruesome way, humanity at its worst, people killed by other people. They will haunt your memory; they will be published again and again. The photographers took great risks to shoot those images; we praise them for their pictures and courage to be where others do not dare to go. There were amazing photos depicting war and those photographers deserve to be praised for their work. But do their images really belong to a pictures contest? Does anyone think about their impact in the future, about their impact on young photographers? Was Susan Sontag right in her last book, “Regarding the pain of others”?
Throughout those years, many young photographers looked at those pictures and what have they learned? They have learned that to be a great photographer and to make a great picture you must go to a conflict or a war zone, because you get instant recognition. But that’s built on others’ ordeals. Generations of photographers thought this way, even today, in an easily accessible conflict zone, the place is swarming with photographers, sometimes they outnumber the combatants.
What happens in a war zone must be documented, the story must be told, because we are supposed to learn from mistakes, we are supposed to intervene if something happens against humanity. The rest of the world must see what is going on elsewhere.
I have been shooting photographs because of this; in the hope that what I picture today will never happen again. But I see that it happens again and again and again.