Philip Jones Griffiths: one of the ultimate photojournalists of history:
Warning: Graphic photos ahead:
Not since Goya has anyone portrayed war like Philip Jones Griffiths. – HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON
I’m currently living here in Saigon, and have obviously been thinking more about Vietnam in general.
For example, I’m currently staying in a hotel here in Saigon, with my super-fast wifi, enjoying my single-origin espresso, crossing the street and working out the park, and talking to 18-year old Vietnamese kids and working out with them (as they are listening to American rap music like Lil Wayne and Kanye West).
Then I think– the Vietnamese war wasn’t that long ago; times have changed.
Here is one of the photos from Philip Jones Griffiths that moved me the most, the tenderness that American GI’s showing compassion towards their Viet Song Enemy:
I look at all these horrific photos from the Vietnamese war (VIETNAM INC by Philip Jones Griffiths), and now look at modern society– and have so much more gratitude. There is much more world peace now, yet I don’t think we should get too comfortable.
I watched Full Metal Jacket and saw how easy it was to dehumanize the ‘other’, especially in war.
Anyways, I have more hope and optimism for the future of humanity, for there to be more world peace through mutual cooperation, business, and open-mindedness in culture, music, food, etc.
Lots of good stuff to come from Vietnam– especially more connection with Vietnam with Japan, South Korea, and America:
To go back to Philip Jones Griffiths, to me, he was one of the ultimate photojournalists of history. He was one of the instrumental forces to change the public opinion of the American public to be more anti-war in Vietnam. PJG (Philip Jones Griffiths) has proven that the camera is mightier than the sword.
1. Record the history of the human race
Even if not a single picture is never published, they exist. And that means that we are recording the history of the human race. If that’s all your doing, it still a very very worth while profession to be involved in. – Philip Jones Griffiths
2. Channel your anger into something positive/productive
I attempt to channel my anger into the tip of my forefinger as I press the shutter. Philip Jones Griffiths
3. People trust pictures; photography has great power!
People believe pictures. It’s a photograph that’s in your passport, not a painting. Now, George Bernard Shaw said, ‘I would exchange every painting of Christ for one snapshot.’ That’s what the power of photography is. Philip Jones Griffiths
4. Look at photos upside down to analyze composition
The first picture of his I ever saw was during a lecture at the Rhyl camera club. I was 16 and the speaker was Emrys Jones. He projected the picture upside down. Deliberately, to disregard the subject matter to reveal the composition. It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten. Philip Jones Griffiths
5. Aim to make photography democratic!
Real photography is a wonderfully inclusive, democratic medium, whereas art photography is more often a private pursuit by conmen. Philip Jones Griffiths
6. Photos has the power to dictate the cultural memory of history
When Bill Gates started Corbis we were told that he needed images to fill those digital picture frames in his home, and many found this plausible. But now it’s pretty clear that he’s set out to control the visual history of the twentieth century. Philip Jones Griffiths
7. Inform the public with your photos!
What we get to think and know about the world is in the hands of a very few… A truly informed public is antithetical to the interests of modern consumer capital. Philip Jones Griffiths
8. You need both content and form!
Content alone is propaganda; form alone is wallpaper. Philip Jones Griffiths
9. On black and white photography
Let’s assume that all the cassettes of monochrome film Henri Cartier-Bresson ever exposed had somehow been surreptitiously loaded with colour film. I’d venture to say that about two thirds of his pictures would be ruined and the remainder unaffected, neither spoiled nor improved. And perhaps one in a thousand enhanced. Philip Jones Griffiths
10. Criticize society to progress it!
Journalists should be by their very nature anarchists, people who want to point out things that are not generally approved of. It’s by criticizing that society that humanity has made progress. – Philip Jones Griffiths
Photos by Philip Jones Griffiths
Photos via Vietnam INC MAGNUM PHOTOS >
Here are the photos that have affected me the most — note several things:
- The captions used to accompany the photos, how they show an anti-war perspective for Vietnam.
- The poetic compositions of PJG; even in the midst of horrible atrocities.
- I was quite shocked to see some of the very loving photos of the American GI’s toward the children, and even some of the VietCong:
- The power of photos to affect your interpretation of history.
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