The morality of a photo

There is a conversation happening over at The Online Photographer about a Daguerreotype that Jerry Spagnoli took of 9/11. It is a haunting, spooky, and unsettling look at a scene we have all (unforunately) seen over and over. His use of the Daguerreotype forces you to take a second look at something you really don’t want to see, and to therefore deal with it a little more. The controversey is that some claim his photograph is “immoral”. The argument is that since he uses a labor-intensive process, he is somehow fetishizing the event. One commenter said:

I hate to put a limit on things but remember in the back of that photo, right where it gets pretty, there are many hundreds of people who are going to lose their live in short order.

But this is exactly why Jerry’s photograph is so important. This was a horrible tragedy, one that is very hard to come to terms with. I want every artist to use whatever tools and talent they have to help us see, think, and hopefully deal with this tragedy. After 9/11, I was filled with all of these fears and feelings, and wanted to somehow use my art to deal with them. But to my frustration, I couldn’t figure out what to do. Jerry did. He used the tools and talent he possesses to try to come to grips with horror. He should be commended for his work.