Photographs with emotional impact

17 May 2018

SIG: Contemporary

Images can make us smile, laugh, or cry - or somewhere in between.

I was recently in New York and visited the 9/11 Museum at “ground zero”.  The site of and the surrounding areas around the World Trade Centre’s twin towers is making a miraculously rapid recovery.  As well as modern architectural marvels, fitting replacements for what was lost, the area includes significant memorials to those who were attacked and those who tried to help, as well as the excellent museum.

The museum has a collection of images “Witness at Ground Zero” by French photographer Stephane Sednaoui, taken in the days immediately after 11th September 2001 when volunteers were hoping they might find survivors.  A volunteer himself, he captured images during breaks from the gruelling work.  Taken in the middle of the terrible scenes these images have quite an impact.

Last weekend’s Contemporary SIG meeting featured photographers Bill Jackson and Chloe Dewe Mathews.  Chloe Dewe Mathews’ series “Shot at Dawn” makes me think of the poor folk who were at the wrong end (and those at the other) of the rifles used for the executions.

What’s interesting to me as someone interested in improving my “Contemporary photography” is that the image with an absence of the action is every bit as effective as the image with the obvious message - when the context is known for the series of images.

What sequences of images have had an emotional impact on you?  What would you recommend I should look up?