Aftermath and aesthetics


Seawright, P (2002) from the Hidden series 

As mentioned in my recent post ‘Photojournalism’ the mid-20th century really was the boom time for photojournalists in terms of photographic worthy events such as World War Two and the Vietnam War but also in terms of how news was reported and distributed.

With the development in technology the nature of warfare had become less about the direct combative style recorded in graphic detail during the Vietnam War. In addition video and moving pictures had started to take over from still images. What has developed over recent decades has been what is often called late photography, capturing more of the aftermath as oppose ‘the moment’. David Campany discusses some of the potential problems with this style of photography in his 2003 essay ‘Safety in Numbness’ where he questions whether the serenity and aesthetics of such images could turn the viewer or critic to indifference or even banality.

The characteristics and impact of late photography are not necessarily restricted to war or terrorist attacks and are equally applicable to natural disasters or significant events (for instance the work of Edgar Martins, (2009) Ruins of the Second Gilded Age) but an interesting point that Campany also makes is “In forfeiting any immediate relation to the event and taking up a slower relation to time, ‘late photographs’ appear to separate themselves out from the constant stream emitted by the convergence of modern electronic image technologies. Part of the appeal of these static, slow and detailed photographs is that they strike us now as being somehow a new kind of ‘pure’ photography that can’t be confused with other kinds of image (this no doubt another reason for their profile in museums and galleries). They look a very photographic kind of photography,” (Campany, D. 2003)


Seawright, P(2002) Room 1, taken from the series ‘Hidden’, commissioned by the Imperial War Museum to mark the War in Afghanistan. This image was taken from Rena Bransten Gallery and can be found at (accessed 10/12/2016)

Campany, D. (2003) Safety in Numbness which can be found at (accessed 04/02/2016)


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