Posts Tagged ‘Politics in Photography’

Polipics: Targeting Protestors


photo via Andrew Sullivan/The Daily Dish (The Atlantic)

So much is going on right now. Iranian brutality. Elections in Afghanistan. Scotland releasing the only convicted Lockerbie bomber. The controversy over whether Michelle Obama should wear shorts in 106-degree heat while on vacation at the Grand Canyon. The mind spins.

Let’s focus on Iran. Great to get the tip on this disturbing use of photographs for political gain. Thanks to L.A. photographer Keith Skelton for this item from Michael David Murphy who is blogging about Andrew Sullivan’s “Daily Dish”:

“Sullivan has done substantial work covering the protests against the election in Iran. His post “Counter-Targeting the Protestors” led to a site controlled by the Iranian government, where the regime was posting candid photographs of Mousavi supporters demonstrating in the streets, and using the site as a plea to the public to help with identifications.”

They’re available here as a zip file:, or in this set Wanted in Iran on Flickr.

And speaking of photojournalists, I visited the Annenberg Space for Photography Saturday and learned that AP photographer Emilio Morenatti lost a foot on August 11, to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. Videographer Andi Jatmiko, was also injured. Journalists are in danger all over the world, but they go and do and see and capture for us the horrors and magical moments they see every day—and pay a price for it.

You can see much of Morenatti’s artful work on the Denver Post site. And, of course, get to the Annenberg to see the current exhibit of the Photos of the Year International (POYi) voted on by the Missouri School of Journalism. The website has about 77 of the exhibit’s photos on view. About 45,000 pictures were submitted this year.



Polipics: Which Story is the Story?


photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

Now here is the story the media should have been covering. Yes, great TV when Hillary got perturbed over misunderstanding an African’s question and thinking she was being dissed in favor of hubby Bill. That in itself is a whole discussion about whether women get the respect they deserve in politics. The real story is what’s happening to the women in the Congo. Nearly 3,500 have been raped since January in the war-torn east of DR Congo.

Here’s the official caption for this photo: A 30-year old woman lays on a bed on August 10, 2009, as she waits to go into surgery that will help her with physical problems developed after she was raped by three men belonging to an armed group almost four years ago. Doctors at the Heal Africa Clinic in Goma treat women who have been sexually abused and in the majority of the cases, due to the violent and vicious nature of the attacks develop serious physical problems. This woman is in for her ninth intervention and has lived in a transit home inside the clinic for four years. Hundreds of thousands of women have become victims of brutal rape usually perpetrated by groups of armed men who have engaged in armed conflict in the region for almost a decade and who use rape as a weapon of war.

Yes, that’s a story, old as time, and still needs to be told.

Also going on this week were the crazy healthcare protests and the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor as a Supreme Court Justice. Did you have any political protests going on in your backyard? Are you out looking for controversies to cover? Let us know!


Polipics: Clinton to the Rescue


I chose this photo this week because the story seemed to be more about President Clinton’s trip to see ailing Kim Jong Il (he has pancreatic cancer and had a stroke a year ago) than it was about returning the “convicted,” then pardoned journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee of Comment TV. Apparently months of backroom dealing at the White House made this all happen so easily as Clinton was the person the ill Il wanted—and needed—to give his friendless country a positive spin.

With no announcement, Clinton arrived in North Korean in an unmarked plane, yet is greeted with diplomacy and flowers, meets with Il, and brings the women home. (So many opportunities here for bad jokes, I’ll leave them to you.) But having a former president play Dudley Do-Right elevated this medium-hot story to another level.

Ling and Lee had been arrested for illegally entering the country, and convicted of it, but insiders on NPR and other news outlets say Korea never planned on really keeping them locked up, as all things are politics in Korea. This was not a raid on Entebbe. This was political maneuvering at the highest levels—Korea needs friends and we don’t take kindly to having our journalists or citizens jailed. Just what all the talk was about while Clinton visited, as the White House says he not there to negotiate government deals, is yet to be revealed. What do you think? Should Clinton have gone? Did Il get the attention he wanted? Is that ok?


Polipics: Race or Ridiculous?


Debbi K. Swanson Patrick


Associated Press

Where do you stand on this photo of Cambridge police arresting Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates his own home. Is it black v. white? A misunderstanding? Over-reacting? Injustice? Defiance? Class and race clash? What does this say about race relations in America?

What strikes me is that while I’m sure Sgt. James Crowley was trying to do a thorough job, it’s hard for me to imagine how he or others on site did not recognize Gates, the man known as “the nation’s most famous black scholar,” or at least be aware of where he lives. According to Wikipedia, he’d been at Harvard since 1991, and among his notable achievements, Gates has been the recipient of nearly 50 honorary degrees and numerous academic and social action awards. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 1981 and was listed in Time among its “25 Most Influential Americans” in 1997.

One of the most ironic elements of this story: To build Harvard’s visual, documentary, and literary archives of African-American texts, Gates arranged for the purchase of “The Image of the Black in Western Art,” a collection assembled by Dominique de Ménil in Houston, Texas.

Then it was Gates who ended up being the image of a black man—being arrested—in America. But all may have settled down rather quickly if it weren’t for the President saying the police acted “stupidly” to get the country riled up.

While Professor Gates said: “This could and should be a profound teaching moment in the history of race relations in America. I sincerely hope that the Cambridge police department will choose to work with me towards that goal,” Sgt. Crowley said, “Because, in the end, this is not about me at all; it is about the creation of a society in which ’equal justice before law’ is a lived reality.”

Thursday, all parties gather at the White House for a beer at President Obama’s invitation. A teaching moment, indeed.


Polipics: The Loss of Cronkite

Debbi K. Swanson Patrick


Last week was rough. We lost the great architectural photographer Julius Shulman and “America’s Anchor,” Walter Cronkite. Killer blows. And the U.S. now has a soldier, Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, in Taliban hands, and a video of him being shown all over the media. What impact will his image have on world events?


I might have focused on that this week, were it not for the loss of Cronkite on the horizon of the 40th anniversary of the United States landing on the moon. I can’t help but think he must have planned it. He had brilliant timing.



The politics involved in getting the U.S. to the moon was extraordinary. President Kennedy got the show on the road with his speech to congress (, and according to a spokesman from Jet Propulsion Laboratory who spoke at Caltech recently, we made the goal because a lot of the work was already completed.


Here are the shots that got the U.S. moving.



What’s that, you ask? The first pictures in orbit of the first satellite Sputnik, launched in 1957 by the Soviets, taken in South Pasadena. Here’s a more recognizable image of Sputnik:





Though the U.S. announced plans for a satellite first, we were beat. And JFK needed to get America back in the lead of the “space race.” What would the world be like if the U.S.S.R. had gotten to the moon first? Well, in fact, they did.




But with the crash of their ship, Luna 2, it was the U.S. that stepped foot first and planted that flag. This is the photo America wanted to see. And both the flag and footprint remain, even if our presence doesn’t. What kind of photograph, if any, would propel us back to the moon? We’re supposedly going by 2020, per President Bush, but there’s much debate about it. So, will we, or won’t we?



Did you think this was Neil Armstrong’s footprint like I did? It’s actually Buzz Aldrin’s.

Have you captured historic, political events? Please share.


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