Photo journalism: to click or to help, that is the question.

Janphel Yeshi cries out in pain as he runs engulfed in flames at a protest in New Delhi, March 26, 2012. The Tibetan activist lit himself on fire at the gathering and was rushed to hospital.

Janphel Yeshi cries out in pain as he runs engulfed in flames at a protest in New Delhi, March 26, 2012. The Tibetan activist lit himself on fire at the gathering and was rushed to hospital.
Picture via Time magazine online, April 9, 2012

When I saw this photo in April 9th’s issue of Time magazine I had a flashback to the time I was standing in the room lined with Pulitzer prize winning photos at the Newseum in Washington DC. The duality of emotions I feel when I see images like this leave me in the greyest of grey areas.

I know I need to see this in order to know that the world is not at peace, far from it. But I struggle with the image of a man englufed in flames surrounded by photo journalists clicking away on their cameras to get THE best picture.

I really struggle with this. Wouldn’t the natural human emotion to help override the desire to get the picture? What’s the answer? I don’t know. But every time I feel this duality of emotions about whether the photo-journalist should or should not take this photo, and get paid for it, my stomach hurts.

I know we need to see these horrific images, someone needs to record the moment so that we never forget.

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