The Power of Photography


Locals of Mogadishu drag the body of U.S. Staff Sergeant William David Cleveland through the streets of Somalia in 1993. (Paul Watson Photo Credit)

I was browsing across the web when I saw this photo that stopped me dead in my tracks. I was lost for words, with nothing I could possibly say to explain what was happening and the reason for it.

When I finally diluted my rush of emotions, I was left with anger and disgust. I scrambled for possible explanations of the scene, but nothing could ever justify the actions that remain frozen in this picture. A man who sacrificed his well-being to ensure the freedom of his country, is being pulled viciously through the streets like the catch of the day.

The photo provides a nice depth of field in which all the facial expressions appear visible and meaningful.

The two men making direct eye contact with the camera add a sense of unease and mystery to the photo. The man in the blue shirt seems unsure about what is taking place. He appears caught off guard by the camera, leading to his emotionless face seen in the picture. Meanwhile the man in the white shirt is very direct with his expression. His nasty glare towards the camera serves as intimidation and a territorial gesture. Their facial expressions balance the action nicely on each side of the photo (aside from the main activity).

The rule of thirds is also pretty clear-cut in the picture. The body serves as the bottom third, the legs and pants are the middle third, and the faces fill the top third.

Pictures have no limitation to the things they can achieve, whether it be positive or negative. They are able to create first impressions, lasting impressions that will remain with their viewers as long as they live. They can enlighten and explain things that seem foggy or unclear just as easily as they can throw a curveball containing an incomprehensible image.

The potential of a photograph lies in the hands of its’ owner. Pain, sorrow, and humiliation leak from the photo above as well as the rest of the collection. Cameras are a beautiful yet dangerous piece of equipment. Its’ contents have crafted the course of history from time to time. There is no way of measuring the amount of power a photo possesses.


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