War Photography

Powerful Essays
War has always been an unfortunate part of our society and civilization. War will sadly and undoubtedly be with us as long as we exist. However, the portrayal of war for many centuries gave a sense of patriotism and romanticism. Then the invention of the camera changed how humanity perceived war in the late to mid 19th century. And all of a sudden, images of war became of shear violence and destruction. The violence in these images would play a significant part in the social and political standpoints of war in our nation.

During the pre-Civil War era, the technology of photography was rare or still in development. All renderings of war were either in paintings or in literature. Since artists were the only people capable of creating images of war at the time, they often put their imaginations or added extra details to their paintings. By adding their personal touches to these pieces of art, they would often depict bravery, patriotism, and heroism. “Paintings, lithographs, woodcuts, and statues displayed a glorious saga of thrilling American heroism from the Revolution to the Mexican War” (Franklin 811). The 1851 painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware gave the sense of nationalism and pride. Photography then came along. Many newly found photographers were looking for a profit and followed the Union armies into battle (Franklin 811). Since cameras at the time took a long time to snap a shot, photographers could not take picture of action or battle without them being too blurry. So, they took pictures of the dead. It was these gruesome pictures that were the first to be shown to the public. The worst pictures of all were the ones taken at Gettysburg and Antietam. The bodies in some of these pictures were already two days deco...

... middle of paper ... censor wars harsh realities. Our government and military did an excellent job bringing back the so called “romance” into war again.

In the future, there may be more ways in which war may seem more romantic. As our technology grows, so does our capability to destroy ourselves, and censor wars reality. Our capability to manipulate media will grow and be able to influence more and more people. Images of war will continue to change the social and political landscape. It has already been proven throughout the 20th century, and no doubt will continue through the 21st. The photograph changed the way war is portrayed. Images of war will never go back to the genuine romance they once portrayed.

Works Cited

1. Franklin, Bruce. “Realism to Virtual Reality: Images of Americas Wars”

“The Norton Reader” New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

2008. 810-825. Print.
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