Chapter 10 of Kenneth Kobré’s “Photojournalism: The Professionals’ Approach” focuses on capturing “the issues,” generally referring to political and social imbalance. What struck me most from this chapter is the intense emotion portrayed in every photograph. Kobré gives plenty of examples of “positive” emotion: pride, happiness, love and celebration, but what hit the hardest for me were the examples of “negative” emotion: anger, sadness and fear.
My favorite example (although “favorite” is a strong word for this,) is the “Haitian Street Justice” series on pages 266-267. Photographer Carol Guzy captures the murder of a man who is believed to be the killer of a beloved community leader. The man is attacked by a mob of people and is beaten and killed with blades and blunt objects in the street. This series captures some of the most intense anger and fear that I’ve ever seen in photographs, and the photos are frankly hard to look at.
Guzy mentions that she felt guilty looking at the photos afterward, thinking that she may have been able to do something to save the man. In the end, she chooses to publish the photoset anyway, understanding that the worst thing she could do would be to hide what happened.
These photos, paired with Guzy’s commentary, were deeply emotional for me. If I had been on the scene, I’m not sure that I would’ve had it in me to take the photos.