Comment on Rob’s Post 5: “Errol Morris and the Case of the Inappropriate Clock”

Rob’s Blog 5: “Errol Morris and the Case of the Inappropriate Clock”

I found Rob’s analysis of Errol Morris’s seven-part reading to be informative and in line with my thinking. I agree that a photojournalist, when faced with the task of capturing something on film properly, has some clear choices to make, starting with angle, composition, arrangement, etc. But introducing something into the photograph that doesn’t belong in the first place (like the alarm clock) is taboo for me.  As I stated in my own blog for this week’s readings, the less that one tinkers with a photograph, the better — and that means even before the photographer has clicked the shutter.

I’m very intrigued by Rob’s discussion of Robert Capa and recent allegations that Capa faked his famed photograph of a Spanish Civil War soldier at the moment of the soldier’s death. Aside from the obvious lapse in ethics that such an allegation represents, the greater concern for me is that Capa took the only 12 surviving photographs of the troops landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day. These images, corrupted somewhat by the nervous hand of the developer in London, quickly found their way into American newspapers as true representations of the landing and its inherent horrors. Since my dissertation will analyze the ways in which the American print media constructed for the American public a very specific memory of D-Day as it was happening,  the Capa flap gives me pause.  The Capa photographs are a key component of that constructed memory. I have no doubt whatsoever that Capa’s D-Day images are the real deal, but what if the allegation about his earlier 1936 photograph in Spain is substantiated? How might that fact affect how we as historians  view his subsequent work? This is one question that I will have to contemplate carefully as I begin to explore this controversy in greater detail. My thanks to Rob for making me aware of it.

Steve Rusiecki

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