27 May 2012

(Anti)War Photography or Arms Industry Adverts? The Strange Case of Ron Haviv and Lockheed Martin

This is a screenshot from photographer Ron Haviv's web page; the featured image is from an advert for Lockheed Martin, arms manufacturer (he also apparently works with BAE, another arms manufacturer - [1] [2] [3]).* This is not ironic, it is politically problematic and deeply so given the vocal stance both Haviv and his photo agency, VII, take toward war and violence. You can find a pointed assessment of the situation here at duckrabbit. I also recommend this exchange between David Campbell and the duckrabbit folk regarding the process of formulating their post. Blogging is a new-ish enterprise and it is, I think, important to have these sorts of frank discussion about standards. That said, it also is important to keep one's eye on the ball which, in this case, means the links between VII, Haviv and the arms industry.
* Update: I have updated this after having poked a bit further on Haviv's page. I will take the opportunity to point out the remarkable commonality between Haviv's BAE adverts and what I previously have criticized as an emerging set of conventions among embedded photojournalists covering war here and  here and here and here. Look at all those nice pics of military personnel as 'just kids' hanging out.

Update #2: And you can find Haviv's not especially persuasive response here. Basically he adopts a partitioning strategy in which the agency (VII) was in the dark, the clients are admirable (USO) and the decision to sell the images rests elsewhere. No responsibility in sight.

Update #3: Here is the similarly diffuse/non-committal statement on this episode by VII; even accounting for the group nature of the enterprise (hence the need to communicate with the various members) this took a long time.

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