I got back to the UK last Friday, after spending 10 amazing days in New York. I went there for the 10th annual salsa congress and spent some time afterwards sightseeing and (of course) taking photographs.
I visited the International Center of Photography, which was initiated by Cornell Capa (Robert Capa's brother) and is the world's largest photo museum and photography school.
I was particularly interested in the sections about black people in the media. There were several photographs covering the activities of the Civil Rights Movements and the ways in which they used photography to inform and educate their followers. There were some very powerful images of Martin Luther King at his rallies and the infamous picture by James Louw of Marting Luther King lying fatally wounded on his motel balcony.
It was stated that Malcolm X staged scenarios in which he would be photographed to spread the message of the Nation of Islam.
The mother of Emmet Till used photographs of Emmet's battered corpse to show the realities of racism in America in 1955. The men accused of his murder were acquitted, and the case would probably have been forgotten had it not been for the graphic photographs. In fact his murder was one of the catalysts for the inception of the Civil Rights Movement, no doubt the photograph had much to do with that as well.
What have I learned?
The nature of some of the images really highlighted the impact of photography. Many were photojournalistic in nature, and although they were not necessarily taken for publication, many ended up on the covers of magazines.
The images told stories in ways that words probably could not have done at that time, since members of the target audience may not have had the prerequisite reading skills. These photographs really highlighted the use of photography as a means of communication as well as recording historic events.