The recenttechnological invention of cheap Smartphones with decent cameras, theavailability of cheap and fast internet in the mobile phones and the socialnetworking platforms allow almost everyone to become a “photojournalist”.
Weare able to capture and share images and videos of a newsworthy event evenlive. Furthermore, professional photographers are still covering newsworthyevents. It is almost impossible not to find images of a newsworthy event in2017. However, thephotographer’s interest for a meaningful story does not stop with the end ofthe event.
With the end of the event, starts the Aftermath of it. In the Aftermathor Late Photography, the photographer tries to capture the effects of adisaster. The photographer does not only want to inform but also raisediscussions and hopefully with the awareness to prevent these events, whenpossible to happen again. But is this possible? Can only photographs ofcatastrophic events change attitudes and policies? Can the view of sockingimages and the sad feelings raised from them, reduce the number of war crimes,wars, terror attacks? Can socking images like the ones from the fire in GrenfellTower (BBC News, 2017b) change the way we build buildings etc? Late Photography A genre ofphotography (Faulker, 2014), (Campany, 2003) has emerged the last two decades in whichimages of the effects of historic and / or catastrophic events on landscapes,buildings, items and people has been captured. The photographer arrives late,walks around in places that something already happened and tries to capture itseffects. These are images of what left behind after the ending of the event. Thistype of photography of the aftermath of the events was termed “LatePhotography” by David Campany.
The earliestphotos (Tello, 2014), (Johnstone 2015) of this type were photos of the CrimeanWar in the mid- nineteenth century by Roger Fenton and were taken around twomonths after the events. His photos still influence practitioners of the genre.However, Aftermath Photography as a genre did not emerge properly until the 2000s.Characteristic examples of this era’s Late Photography are the images taken byJoel Meyerowitz after the 9/11 attack at the World Trade Centre and photos ofthe wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by Paul Seawright (Seawright), Lyndell Brownand Charles Green (Brown, L. , Green, C.
, Cattapan J., 2014). Meyerowitz (Phaidon,2011) was the only photographer that has been granted access to the scene andthe clean- up operation at the World Trade Centre. Late photography is not only limited in the aftermathof war conflicts and terror attacks (Touster, 2016), (Mansfield, 2016), (Time, 2016), (BBC News, 2017a) but alsoincludes images of what happened after the dropping of the atomic bombs(Johnstone, 2015), (Hall, 2015), nuclear accidents (Teicher, 2014), genocides (Torgovnik,2008), typhoons (Kitwood), hurricanes (Murrmann, 2015), (Reinis 2015),earthquakes (Ruck, 2016), tsunamis (Pletcher, Rafferty, 2016), toxic wastespills (Abbe, 2012a), flooding (Abbe, 2012b), avalanches (Sharipo, 2015),chemical wars (Schouweiler,2009), explosions (Taylor, 2015), fires (Evans,2016), (BBC News, 2017b) and even more personal issues like the battle withcancer (Mansfield,2014). Also, latephotography is not only limited to scenes of the events and landscapes but alsophotos of objects and portraits. Late versus Press Photography Inphotojournalism, the photographer tries to tell a story or to provideinformation about a social or political situation. The photos are a comment ona situation; the photographer tries to give answers.
In contrast to that, LatePhotography avoids instruction, it tries more to present and record an issue, asksmore questions than answers them. Another (Bull, 2009) difference is that theLate Photography images are not aimed to be published in newspapers andmagazines but books and galleries/ museums. In pressphotography, it is important to depict the action, whereas in late photographythe stillness and the silence after the event is captured (Johnstone, 2015).
This”stillness” can be effective even years after the catastrophic events. We couldsee the immediate effects of the event the first minutes or days, but lives canbe affected even decades after it (Möller,2016), (Cumming,2014).Althoughcapturing the stillness and the silence make us think that the LatePhotographers do not put their life in danger, as frequently as the pressphotographers do, that is not always the case. Igor Kostin (World Press Photo),was one of the few photographers who documented the direct aftermath ofChernobyl disaster in 1986. His life is affected up to this day, as he was exposedto enormous radiation levels. Photographer Arkadiusz Podniesinski (Podniesinski,2015) risked his life to photograph the aftermath of Fukushima Nucleardisaster, four years after the catastrophic events.
An unknownphotographer (Hall, 2015) who documented the aftermath of the Hiroshima attackbelieved that has died shortly after the event. The photographer himself andthe people depicted in the photos were exposed to fatal levels of radiation.There is a really interesting story “behind” the exhibition of this series ofphotos.
The photographer died before the camera went on sale 70 years ago, thephotographs were discovered 12 years ago, but were displayed for the first timein a museum 2 years ago. MotivationsLatephotography is not visually complex (Johnstone 2015); it straightforwardlypresents the details of the aftermath sites. There is a need thought the viewerto be provided with more details to understand what they are viewing and which thecatastrophic event was. The viewer isinvited to pause, acknowledge the event and reflect on what happened a littleor long time before the photograph taken, and caused suffering at the time thathappened and possibly still causing suffering today. It might allow the viewer to think about whatthey are viewing. Hence, from an otherwise simple representation of an event,more complicated discussions can be raised. Due to their disturbing naturethese images are aimed to raise political action (Lisle, 2011), (Sontag, 2003).These imageswere not taken to pleasure the viewer.
Photographers have different reasons andmotivations to cover the aftermath of events. João Pina (Pina, 2014) tookphotos of survivors, families of people who disappear and the places everythinghappened in South America during the Operation Condor. He took the photosaround 30 years after the events and aimed to create images of somethinghappened in the past, hoping that the resulting work would not only create avisual memory but also aid survivors and bring those responsible to justice.
Dan Kitwood (Kitwood)visited Philippines to capture the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. They have gonethere to document the destruction and the ability to adapt. What surprised themwas that the people were not desperate but hopeful as they were trying to adaptand move on.
Uma Kinoshita(Love, 2014) documented Fukushima a year after the nuclear disaster which wasinitiated by the tsunami. Kinoshita wanted to show the extreme loneliness,despair and grief, from which people cannot escape after a catastrophic event. PalíndromoMészáros (Abbe, 2012a) documented the aftermath of a toxic waste spill inWestern Hungary, which killed nine people and forced the evacuation ofthousands. He wanted to photograph the area when the journalists and photographersleft it, when it was not any more as a story in the news. Looking to hisimages, the first thought is that they are the result of digital manipulation,but they are the result of an industrial disaster. PetronellaYtsma (Schouweiler,2009) spent several weeks in Vietnam in 2007 and 2008 whereshe photographed the effects of chemical warfare the families. More than 40years later we can see the effect of the chemicals in young children.
Thephotographer hopes that the viewer will be reminded that their actions (asindividuals and as nations) have impact in other people, not only today but alsoaffect future generations. She hoped that these photos will encourage a largerpublic conversation. Donna De Cesare (Chandler, 2008) documentedthe El Salvador ‘s civil war and its aftermath. She wanted with her imagespeople to have a better understanding of why people get involved in gangs. Itis more due to their emotional and psychological scars, than a will forcriminal actions.Ziyah Gafic(World Press Photo) experienced the Bosnia war as a teenager.
For himphotography became a tool to cope with the aftermath of the war. JoshuaTouster (Touster, 2016) documented theaftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombings. It was a personal for him as helives close to the locations that the bombing happened. With this project wewanted not only to document what happened in the local community but also toinform and educate so that tragedies like this will not happen again.The”Aftermath Project” (Newhouse, 2017), (The Aftermath Project) is a non- profitorganisation which has as mission to tell the story after the conflict.
Thestory about the ways the individuals learn to live again, how they rebuilttheir destroyed homes and lives and how they restore societies.Gerd Ludwig(Teicher, 2014) over the last twenty years has returned many times to theChernobyl nuclear disaster. He wanted to show that the story of the disaster isfar from over and still affecting the people and the places inside theexclusion zone. Many elderly people decided to ignore the radiation levels andreturn to the exclusion zone without permission. They preferred to die in theirown land, instead of live sad in the “safe” suburbs.
JonathanTorgovnik (Torgovnik, 2008) as a personal project photographed women with theirchildren in Rwanda. Those women have been raped during the genocide, had achild as a result and also many of them contracted HIV. Jonathan wanted withhis project the stories of these women not to be forgotten. He also believed whatthose women in Rwanda faced more than 10 years ago, mirrors what victims ofrape face today and hopes that his project will raise the awareness of theconsequences of rape. The VietnamWar (Bull,2009), (Sontag, 2003) was the last one photographed as it happened.In most recent wars, only limited number of photographers is allowed and eventhose are not free to take photographs (Harrison, 2015) as they wish, but theyare under the army’s control. Under these conditions, what a photographer can onlydo is to document what comes after the war.PhotographerKerry Mansfield (Mansfield, 2014) diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of31.
In her series “Aftermath” she took self portraits in the different stagesof her battle with cancer: diagnosis, treatment and reconstructive surgery. Herintention was not only to help herself through this battle with the aid of herphotographic practise, but also to create a visual reference so other peoplecould better understand what it means to battle breast cancer. Conclusion Aftermath orLate Photography is the genre of photography in which the effects ofcatastrophic events have been documented. The photographers want to informabout these effects and raise discussions for issues that should not beignored.
Furthermore, in some cases the photographers hope that the awarenessof these effects would prevent these catastrophic events to happen again. But is thiseffective? Does Aftermath Photography help to change the way we look at aserious issue? Personally, Ibelieve it does. I was still in Spain when the Refugees Crisis in Greece was inthe top headlines of the international news agencies.
However, while watchingthat I was thinking of it more as a “problem” and not as humanitarian crisis.My attitude changed when I visited an exhibition in the Thessaloniki Museum ofPhotography few days ago (Georgiadis, 2017). These images have been consideredpress photos when they have been published individually in the websites,newspapers etc. However, collectively in this exhibition, I think they are latephotographs of the Aftermath of an Aftermath.
The first event was the war intheir countries. The aftermath of which was their journey. Seeing photographsof their dead bodies or them collected by rescue teams is the Aftermath oftheir deadly journey. Usually, when I visit this museum I am leaving feelinghappy and impressed. Seeing, the images of the refugees made me feel sad anddepressed. It helped me to further understand what these people have beenthrough and looked more at them as humans and individuals.
Although, thelate photographs covering humanitarian crisis or natural disasters can changethe way of thinking of people like me, do they also affect those who have thepower? Those who usually take important decisions but lack of morals? PhotographerKerry Mansfield (Mansfield, 2014) diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of31. In her series “Aftermath” she took self portraits in the different stagesof her battle with cancer: diagnosis, treatment and reconstructive surgery. Herintention was not only to help herself through this battle with the aid of herphotographic practise, but also to create a visual reference so other peoplecould better understand what it means to battle breast cancer.