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View Full Version : What do you think of this photo from Tiananmen Square


curiousgeorge
15th of August 2009 (Sat), 18:18
This photo apparently shows a man walking towards the tanks before the confrontation.

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/04/behind-the-scenes-a-new-angle-on-history/?hp

Do you think the image has much impact? I don't think it does at all, as the man doesn't even look like he's heading towards the tank, looks more like he's carrying his shopping bags.

Even so, is the photo as significant as is being made out in the article?

For me it's just not that interesting.

Maybe it's the poor quality and the angle/position from which it was taken.

RDKirk
15th of August 2009 (Sat), 21:19
I agree with you.

From the point of view of an imagery intelligence analyst, trained to extract as much information from an image as possible, this photograph is useful--it provides additional information about the moment. However, that information must be mined, dug out, and analyzed.

From the point of view of telling the story of the moment with greatest visual impact and with the least need for analysis, the image we're all familiar with is far, far superior.
http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/03/behind-the-scenes-tank-man-of-tiananmen/?scp=2&sq=Lens&st=cse

That picture has the definitive "Whoa!" factor.

As far as visually describing the chaos of being on the street during those days, I've also seen other images with far more impact of the chaos.

From a pictoral standpoint, the "tankman" is visually separated from the tanks by a bus, two trees, and a construction vehicle (that is the most attention-grabbing element of the photograph). There is no visual connection between "tankman" and the tanks--if you weren't told what this photograph was, if you were merely leafing through a magazine, you might not even notice them.

This image is conflicted. Even though there are a couple of guys running, the picture does not say "chaos" or "danger" or anything else particularly dramatic. One man is running hard, another seems to be running casually, one man is merely standing, another is calmly riding a bicycle. Oh, what is that? Is that a tank? Two men may be running from it, but two men seem to be watching it calmly. Well, don't know what's going on here. Next page.

I think the bloggist is making too much of it, and there is an obvious reason why this picture hasn't garnered much attention when compared to the other well-known image.

curiousgeorge
16th of August 2009 (Sun), 03:44
Good analysis.

Having seen the more well known photo (and realising the significance of the tank man) it becomes more significant. It would fit well in a sequence of photos (eg in an exhibition) but in isolation it doesn't work at all.

philmar
19th of August 2009 (Wed), 09:41
This photo apparently shows a man walking towards the tanks before the confrontation.

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/04/behind-the-scenes-a-new-angle-on-history/?hp

Do you think the image has much impact? I don't think it does at all.

I agree. This doesn't even come close to the iconic versions. But that won't stop the NY Times from hyping their photo.