How is war photography used to tell a message?

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Chase Burns eNotes educator| Certified Educator

War photography is an interesting art form because it is a combination of journalism and art. In one way, war photography allows civilians and elected officials to understand the realities of a war that might be taking place beyond their borders. In this way, war photography is like journalism. Yet, war photography is also an art form that is used to convey a specific message. War photography is like any piece of art and has an artist who is creating an intentional piece of work that elucidates a feeling or response in an audience member.

Traditionally, war photographers have established rigid rules so that their photographs can convey authentic and credible images. War photographers often present stark, bare images. It is a source of conflict over whether or not war photographers should manipulate their images, as the main way war photography conveys its meaning is by presenting the truth through an unfiltered lens. 

Contemporary war photography has its roots in the British government. The British government has long funded and supported war photographers and painters, even sending them out during the recent Iraq War. The first instance of the British government recruiting war photographers was at the start of the Crimean War in 1854. Consequently, the artists who photographed the Crimean War are considered the first pioneers in war photography. 

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