THE POWER OF A WELL-SHOT PHOTOGRAPH

THE CONTRARIAN

The ‘sea turtle’ business reminds me of some of the remarkable examples of a superior photograph having far-reaching effects. An obvious one would be some 40 years ago, the little girl, clothes all blown away, running toward the camera with all the horrors of war on her crying face.  Shown endlessly, and a big factor in the ending of the Viet Nam war; of course it will be many years before we can sort out whether that was a good thing in ending American meddling in the east, or a bad thing in enabling the rise of the Chinese Empire.

Before that, back in the 30’s we had the Hindenburg, remember, the airship from Europe that burnt up on landing at New York. Airships – float in the air like a regular ship floats on water, ought to be more comfortable and safe than a conventional aircraft.  If something goes wrong, if floats around while you fix it, as opposed to a regular airplane falling out of the sky and killing everybody on board.  Unfortunately there was a MovieTone News reporter there, and with his spectacular footage of a big fireball, and appallingly horrified commentary, shown in every movie theatre for months, nobody was ever going to fly in one of those again.  Destroyed the whole airship idea even though the fire was above the passengers and there was virtually no loss of life.  Or maybe didn’t kill the idea, just set it back a hundred years, I can still visualize 5000 passenger solar powered cruise airships floating around our planet, what a vacation that would be!

And who can forget the nicely groomed little boy lying on a beach, purporting to be a middle-eastern refugee drowned on his way to Greece, an excellent photo which went viral and helped change the face of Europe.

More recently we saw the endlessly repeated photo of the lost little girl, apparently separated from her family by president Trump personally, who presumably has nothing better to do, as if.

Then there is our own northern Ontario example of photographic chicanery. Remember back in the 60’s, a shot of the front of our Mill from across the river, a small pipe sticking out of the riverbank and a stream of liquid running out of it while a voice interminably intones ‘mercury, mercury’.  This clip endlessly repeated over a period of years by our CBC and many others.  That pipe was a parking lot drain, and the liquid coming out of it rain water, and that makes it a good metaphor for the whole mercury three ring circus which had and is still having such a negative effect on all our lives.

It is fairly obvious now that this program to vilify our mill and our town was initially to prevent the proposed big new paper mill in Ear Falls. It succeeded, aided tremendously by that excellent photo.

The power of a well-shot photograph.

 

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