I came across this article in the Guardian a week ago (in fact several people pointed it out to me, so you may already have seen it yourself), but I’ve been thinking about it since and trying to work out what I really do think…
Yesterday I was talking to some students about copyright issues and privacy rights – the rights of people in photographs – and the quote below seems the perfect example to illustrate much of what we discussed here. But it hasn’t helped these people much…ten years on and this photograph is still in the public eye.
But my first reaction to this image, and this article is one of disbelief! Disbelief that the automatic reading of the photo is that these people are in reverie while the twin towers are burning behind them. Wouldn’t one think the opposite? That what MUST have happened is that the photographer has caught a moment in such a way as to misrepresent the people (deliberately or otherwise?) – because people are more amazing than this – they couldn’t sit and ignore the unfolding tragedy, and we all know photographs ‘lie’.
“Walter Sipser, identifying himself as the guy in shades at the right of the picture, said he and his girlfriend, apparently sunbathing on a wall, were in fact “in a profound state of shock and disbelief”. Hoepker, they both complained, had photographed them without permission in a way that misrepresented their feelings and behaviour.”