Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Gone but not forgotten

I'm sad. The great Philip Jones Griffiths is dead. Long live free-seeing people.

He was a momentous man in the scope of mankind's imagery, whether you like it or not.

If you were an American in the 60's or early 70's, chances are that you changed your whole perspective on the Vietnam war because of his images, let alone if you lived outside America.

He chose to report sideways - i.e. side step the issue of the day and move away from front line news in order to report on a broader scale, giving a highly critical account of a war which was still going on, critical in terms of contradicting the American propaganda machine at the time, something which had never been done before. From 1966 to 1971 he devoted his life to this, and in the in the meantime established what photojournalism is all about. The result was Vietnam Inc.

I had the rare luxury of meeting the man in the flesh last year, and seeing him in full flow at a Q&A at the Frontline Club. He laid down the foundations of photojournalism.

Admittedly, we are forever moving into an era where everything - sound and vision - becomes more and more easily recordable and accessible. Anyone can report.

But to do it with the integrity of Philip Jones Griffiths, to report against the might of the American military machine, takes one hell of a man.


Picture ( July 2007): Lucy (left) and her friends lived on the same estate in Peckham as the now deceased Stanley Rymkivic. When he passed away last month, aged 80, they took it upon themselves to arrange his funeral as he had no immediate family anymore. If it wasnt for this group of teenagers, no one would have attended his funeral.

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