Analysing the pictures

November 2, 2009

Let us now take a look at the two original photographs and relate them to the final composite.

It appears Brian Walski took the two following photographs only moments apart:

Comparing Photos

In the first photo we can clearly recognise the Iraqi man standing in the center with his child. Also, the crowd on the right hand side of the photograph are the same as in the composite. In fact, we can see that all elements of the picture on the right hand side of the soldier have been preserved in the final product. However, in this photograph the soldier is immobile, with his hand down and looks more relaxed. He appears to be looking at the man with the child. No threatening behaviour is visible and the people look reasonably calm. We can also notice in this picture that the area on the soldier’s left is different from the composite: the civilians are not the same and a military tank is visible. This clearly shows that the British military is controlling the area.

The second photo on the other hand shows the soldier in the dynamic stance we’ve seen him in in the published picture. A man sitting down on the right seems concerned by something as he’s pointing in the direction the soldier has his back turned to. Most civilians seem to be looking in that general direction. The standing Iraqi man is this time further in the background and is looking away from the soldier. There is no direct connection between the two men. The area on the left of the soldier is the same as in the composite photograph, no tank is visible.

We can conclude that the controversial picture was composed of the right hand part of the first photo and the left hand part (including the soldier) of the second photo. Each part has been slightly cropped and augmented, to facilitate the merging and create a more dramatic picture. The sky seems to be a mixture of both photographs.

We don’t know which photo was taken first, but it appears more likely that it was photo 2 as the man with the child is standing behind a group of people, further back than in photo 1 (in which he seems to be walking towards the soldier).

Considering the work involved in creating this composite, we can assume that the effect was intentional and thought through by photographer Brian Walski.

What was his reason for doing so? Under what circumstances was he working? What was the desired effect?

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