The Aesthetics of Revolution: The Beauty of the Mass Communicated Image For me, one of the most captivating parts of covering the revolutions across the Middle East has been sifting through all the photographs. I’ve posted countless images from Tahrir and Ajdabiya and Sana’a and Manama. At my heart, I’m a writer and to me words are magical, but nothing has quite been able to communicate the passion and intensity and reality of these events to me and to my readers like some of these images. I have many of them saved on my computer, because I can’t bear to part with them.
Looking through them and thinking about the effect that photographs have had on reception and coverage of the revolution, it reminded me of something I’d read in an old interview with Tim Hetherington (a photojournalist, who, like his compatriot Chris Hondros and another photographer, Anton Hammerl, lost his life covering Libya). He talked about his images as a means of mass communication. He wanted to reach people.
If you are interested in mass communication, then you have to stop thinking of yourself as a photographer. We live in a post-photographic world. If you are interested in photography, then you are interested in something — in terms of mass communication — that is past. I am interested in reaching as many people as possible.
He was on to something here. These were more than just photographs, more than their composition and more than their content. They pull the people across the ocean into it. They’re "bridges" that create links for us, that ground these events in reality. As a spectator to these revolutions and as someone who covered them, I owe a lot to the photographers who brought the reality to my computer screen that showed the blood and the anger instead of presenting the statistics. Particularly photographers like Hetherington, Hondros, and Hammerl, who lost their lives.