July 31, 2014

George and Angela

One thing this picture illustrates is why we at Bag alway separate a photo from its caption. This time as always, we encourage you to gather your reaction first — in this case, to the prompt of a couple sitting on an enormous wing fragment of the downed MA17 — before you look below (hopefully you do always), and read the accompanying data (which enough of the time is going to rejigger your perception).

…So, have you read the caption by now?

And, did it put your mind in a much different place than after your first pass?

And, did your first take, like mine, have anything to do with disaster tourism or the presumption of locals with a twisted sense of a souvenir?

In any case, having thought about this photo for a few days now, I just can’t fathom it. Frankly, the caption raises a lot more questions than it answers — particularly about the involvement of the news photographer in what otherwise makes sense as a moment I would never have gotten to see. (At least, not as a news artifact.)

What I keep wondering is, on what basis (spoken or unspoken) did the couple agree to the photo and, more importantly, how did each make sense of it to themselves? On the surface, it looks like a heartwarming photo in a family album, doesn’t it? But the answer to what they were thinking in sharing with us, and then who and what the picture is for, seems a lot more complicated.

(photo: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters. caption: George and Angela Dyczynski sit on a piece of wreckage of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, during their visit to the crash site near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), in Donetsk region July 26, 2014. According to local media, the Perth-based couple’s daughter Fatima was aboard the Malaysia Airlines plane en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was brought down in eastern Ukraine, where separatists are battling government forces, on July 17.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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