Juliette Binoche playing a female war photographer in 'A Thousand Times Goodnight'
I am posting this poem today thinking of that shocking photo of the drowned Syrian child that has gone 'viral' in world media in recent days. Was the photograph a necessary telling of truth, a powerful wake-up provocation for change or a needlessly insensitive and disrespectful portrayal?
In this poem from a few years back, Carol Ann Duffy writes from a war photographer's perspective, clearly illustrating the mindset and toils of the job.
War Photographer - Carol Ann Duffy
In his dark room he is finally alone
with spools of suffering set out in ordered rows.
The only light is red and softly glows,
as though this were a church and he
a priest preparing to intone a Mass.
Belfast. Beirut. Phnom Penh. All flesh is grass.
He has a job to do. Solutions slop in trays
beneath his hands, which did not tremble then
though seem to now. Rural England. Home again
to ordinary pain which simple weather can dispel,
to fields which don’t explode beneath the feet
of running children in a nightmare heat.
Something is happening. A stranger’s features
faintly start to twist before his eyes,
a half-formed ghost. He remembers the cries
of this man’s wife, how he sought approval
without words to do what someone must
and how the blood stained into foreign dust.
A hundred agonies in black and white
from which his editor will pick out five or six
for Sunday’s supplement. The reader’s eyeballs prick
with tears between the bath and pre-lunch beers.
From the aeroplane he stares impassively at where
he earns his living and they do not care.