Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Shattered Lens: Putting Palestinians Behind Bars

How the wire services use bars in their images to promote the Palestinian narrative of suffering and the impression of Palestinians as “prisoners” of Israeli brutality?

Our Findings:
Wire service photographers use clever photographic techniques to present a false impression that enhances images of Palestinian “suffering”.
The use of bars in such images is a widespread method of portraying Palestinians as “prisoners” of Israeli occupation and brutality.

What could be more symbolic of suffering and mistreatment than the image of small children behind bars? Particularly in reference to Gaza, which is regularly portrayed as a vast ‘open air prison’.

For example, The Independent chose to illustrate the story below with an image from AFP/Getty. The caption:

This is but one example of how wire agency photographers resort to using camera angles and staging techniques to present a distorted (and worse) picture of a given situation.In the example above, it is clear that the photographer used this technique to project an image of Gazan children imprisoned. However, the sequence of photos taken from the same scene at the time illustrates how the effect was achieved.

What we see above is a tiny group of Palestinian children arriving at what appears to be a pre-planned photo op outside the Gaza industrial area presumably organized by Hamas. The photographer either willingly colludes with Hamas or is used.Next, the children have been positioned behind a gate to give the effect of a prison.

However, using a great deal of skill to get the right position with the right lens from the right angle, the photographer manages to create an impression of many more than the several children in the actual shot.

The same children appear in the remaining two images from the sequence, again highlighting how the entire event was staged. The same technique of shooting from below and to the side is employed to give the impression that there are actually more people involved than the reality.

Bars and wires were a common theme during the course of this three-month study, some examples of which we have included below.

Honest Reporting

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