DAVID LEESON

War Photographer

David Leeson

LISTEN TO DAVID LEESON'S DIARY

APRIL 15, 2003 · The images of the dead are difficult to take in, especially for those who are paid to document the Iraq war for readers back home. David Leeson, a senior photographer for The Dallas Morning News, says there are some images too gruesome for him to photograph. Many reporters with troops in Iraq have made similar choices. Few pictures of death appear in U.S. newspapers and magazines, and they are rarely aired on U.S. television networks. Deciding how and when to photograph the dead is a difficult question. In this War Diary entry, Leeson offers his thoughts.

Photographing the dead is very difficult. I actually made an attempt to do that today of a civilian casualty. And I think the issue that you face when you raise that camera is how do you take the photograph and allow that person to retain their dignity? So, today, when I approached this man in his vehicle with the intention to photograph a civilian casualty, [I ] couldn't quite do it.


"I think the issue that you face when you raise that camera is how do you take the photograph and allow that person to retain their dignity?"

This man had been shot behind the wheel of his car and when I got to the car he had no face. So, it was entirely too sad and too gruesome at the same time. It just didn't seem fitting for human life to be photographed in that state. So, I just didn't do it. I walked away from it and went and found something else to photograph.

There was a time, I believe last week, I photographed some dead Iraqi soldiers. I did it by focusing on their shoes because they told the silent story of how ill equipped they were compared to the U.S. Army. They were wearing civilian shoes with holes in them and no socks and things of that matter. To me, it was a way to allow someone to speak even in death.




The Dallas Morning News




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