It can take time for even the most shocking images to have an effect. The war in Bosnia had not yet begun when American Ron Haviv took this picture of a Serb kicking a Muslim woman who had been shot by Serb forces. Haviv had gained access to the Tigers, a brutal nationalist militia that had warned him not to photograph any killings. But Haviv was determined to document the cruelty he was witnessing and, in a split second, decided to risk it. TIME published the photo a week later, and the image of casual hatred ignited broad debate over the international response to the worsening conflict. Still, the war continued for more than three years, and Haviv—who was put on a hit list by the Tigers’ leader, Zeljko Raznatovic, or Arkan—was frustrated by the tepid reaction. Almost 100,000 people lost their lives. Before his assassination in 2000, Arkan was indicted for crimes against humanity. Haviv’s image was used as evidence against him and other perpetrators of what became known as ethnic cleansing. – Ron Haviv
I chose this picture because it shows the cruelty and evil that lives among us on this earth. So many things go on in our world and we don’t even know. Until seeing this picture and reading the description, I didn’t have any knowledge on this.
It was at Antietam, the blood-churning battle in Sharpsburg, Md., where more Americans died in a single day than ever had before, that one Union soldier recalled how “the piles of dead … were frightful.” The Scottish-born photographer Alexander Gardner arrived there two days after the September 17, 1862, slaughter. He set up his stereo wet-plate camera and started taking dozens of images of the body-strewn countryside, documenting fallen soldiers, burial crews and trench graves. Gardner worked for Mathew Brady, and when he returned to New York City his employer arranged an exhibition of the work. Visitors were greeted with a plain sign reading “The Dead of Antietam.” But what they saw was anything but simple. Genteel society came upon what are believed to be the first recorded images of war casualties. Gardner’s photographs are so sharp that people could make out faces. The death was unfiltered, and a war that had seemed remote suddenly became harrowingly immediate. Gardner helped make Americans realize the significance of the fratricide that by 1865 would take more than 600,000 lives. For in the hallowed fields fell not faceless strangers but sons, brothers, fathers, cousins and friends. And Gardner’s images of Antietam created a lasting legacy by establishing a painfully potent visual precedent for the way all wars have since been covered. – Alexander Gardner
I chose this picture because when I first read the description, I put myself in that time. I imagined myself just walking and seeing dead bodies. I just had empathy and so many people died which is sad so that’s why I chose this picture.
The faces of collateral damage and friendly fire are generally not seen. This was not the case with 9-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phuc. On June 8, 1972, Associated Press photographer Nick Ut was outside Trang Bang, about 25 miles northwest of Saigon, when the South Vietnamese air force mistakenly dropped a load of napalm on the village. As the Vietnamese photographer took pictures of the carnage, he saw a group of children and soldiers along with a screaming naked girl running up the highway toward him. Ut wondered, Why doesn’t she have clothes? He then realized that she had been hit by napalm. “I took a lot of water and poured it on her body. She was screaming, ‘Too hot! Too hot!’” Ut took Kim Phuc to a hospital, where he learned that she might not survive the third-degree burns covering 30 percent of her body. So with the help of colleagues he got her transferred to an American facility for treatment that saved her life. Ut’s photo of the raw impact of conflict underscored that the war was doing more harm than good. It also sparked newsroom debates about running a photo with nudity, pushing many publications, including the New York Times, to override their policies. The photo quickly became a cultural shorthand for the atrocities of the Vietnam War and joined Malcolm Browne’s Burning Monk and Eddie Adams’ Saigon Execution as defining images of that brutal conflict. When President Richard Nixon wondered if the photo was fake, Ut commented, “The horror of the Vietnam War recorded by me did not have to be fixed.” In 1973 the Pulitzer committee agreed and awarded him its prize. That same year, America’s involvement in the war ended. – Nick Ut
I chose this picture because this made Americans and others realize how badly their involvement in the war affected Innocent people. Children as well. Looking at this photo is truly devastating but I’m glad someone was able to capture what was really going on.