The Real War Will Never Get on Television

An Analysis of Casualty Imagery in American Television Coverage of the Iraq War
  • Sean Aday

Abstract

In 1862, photographer Alexander Gardner visited the battlefield at Antietam and shot several dozen pictures for the New York gallery run by his employer, Matthew Brady. Most of the images he captured were landscapes and group portraits, reflecting the tastes of the limited but enthusiastic contemporary market for photographs, which had only begun to be in mass circulation for about two decades. About a third of his exposures, however, were of dead Confederate soldiers who had not yet been removed from the field.1 At the time, Gardner had no reason to think these shots would be of any commercial interest; they were, after all, the first images of battlefield death scenes circulated in America. As it turned out, the pictures were a sensation, stimulating a highly profitable frenzy of interest in similar scenes from other battles. When Gardner went to Gettysburg a year later, having set off on his own business, three-quarters of his pictures were graphic depictions of the dead, albeit often rearranged into romanticized poses.2

Keywords

Cage Egypt Defend Photography Metaphor 

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Notes

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© Philip Seib 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sean Aday

There are no affiliations available

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