Monday, 14 May 2012


My obituary of Horst Faas, the great combat photographer and photo-editor, is in today's Guardian, you can link to it here. It was an easy piece to write, because Faas' work is so remarkable it literally speaks for itself: anyone looking at his pictures can 'get it', the emotionalimpact of what he saw in war. What is fascinating is the way in which his remarkable courage, taking pictures in the midst of battle, is a reaction to exactly the same fear many of his pictures show, among both civilians and soldiers (though expressed differently). And it is in the overcoming of that fear, the coping with it, that his pictures work best.

It was nice to discover his role in the story of Greg Marinovich's pictures; Bang Bang Club is coming up for review here at IT during Movie May. I'm a little surprised I never met Faas, particularly in my UPI days in London, and I now regret that. It also seemed ironic that the illness that eventually killed him manifested itself in Vietnam, to which he had not returned often.

It was a privilege to be able to write about him, and instructive to me to be able to revisit the feelings engendered by those photographs which I recalled so well from the days of the Vietnam war. The sad thing today is seeing the way electronic media turn the horrors of war into a video game, and politicians exploit this sense of detachment to turn the inhumane into the non-human.

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