|April 24, 2004|
'Almost Every Night We Send Them Home'
The photographer, Tami Silicio, said she intended to show the great care with which the corpses of the fallen are treated, and the honor that is accorded them. "The way everyone salutes with such emotion and intensity and respect...the families would be proud to see their sons and daughters saluted like that."
It's not for me to tell you what to feel about this picture. You might interpret it as an anti-war photograph. You might interpret it as a paean to patriotism and noble sacrifice in the service of the republic. You might feel sadness and loss. You might feel anger. It's up to you. I merely think it should be up to you — that government censorship is un-American, and bad for democracy. To act as effective citizens, we must be informed. To me, the picture is a reminder that what we photographers do is to bear witness to what we know and consider important...whether it's nature's beauty, or our children as they grow, or the realities of war.
On Thursday, the photographer who took this and her husband were both fired from their jobs as a result of the release of this picture and others like it...even though it was the Air Force that released the pictures in the first place. The Air Force later decided that it had violated its own policies. The photographer worked for Colorado-based Maytag Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of Mercury Air Group Inc., a Pentagon contractor. The Pentagon denied it had any involvement in the retaliation against the Silicios. You can decide what you think about that for yourself, too.
The Pentagon said that more than 700 American military personnel have been killed in Iraq, more than 100 so far in April. More than 3,000 more have been seriously injured or maimed.
(Thanks to Art Elkon.)
The picture above was evidently e-mailed privately by the photographer to a friend, one Amy Katz, who then leaked it to the Seattle Times, which published it. The Seattle Times contacted Ms. Silicio, who discussed it with them "reluctantly." Ms. Silicio did not receive any payment for the photograph and, according to the Newspaper, did not have any control over the decision to publish it, which had already been made when she was contacted. What this means is that Ms. Silicio and her husband were fired because she e-mailed the picture to her friend privately. Subsequently, Ms. Katz has retained an agent to help disseminate or sell the photograph, but either she, or Ms. Silicio, or both, have claimed that any revenues generated will be donated to charity.
If I receive any other pertinent information indicating that what I've written requires correction, I will update the record next week, and we will add the correction to this file for future viewers. —MJ.
He was East Coast Editor of Camera & Darkroom magazine from 1988 to 1994 and Editor-in-Chief of PHOTO Techniques magazine from 1994-2000, where his editorial column "The 37th Frame" was a popular feature and where he presented, among other things, a set of three articles on "bokeh" by John Kennerdell, Oren Grad, and Harold Merklinger that were subsequently widely discussed among photographers.
His critical and technical writings have appeared in various publications
and newsletters such as The Washington Review and D-Max. A number of his
articles written under the pseudonym "L. T. Gray" (el Tigre) appeared in the
English magazine Darkroom User.
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