I noticed a link posted on Facebook by my niece to bussfeed.com this afternoon. The link took me to a page titled the 45 Most Powerful Images of 2011. To be honest there were some amazing pictures on display, most of them provided through Reuters, presumably having been provided throughout the year by their freelance photographers for various news items.
While I was scrolling through the pictures, admiring the handy work and skill of some of the photographers, there were a few that stuck out to me more than most. The most impressive image in my opinion was image number 18, a picture of the eruption of a volcano erupting in Chile. The Puyehue Volcano which erupted in June 2011 caused the mass evacuation of 3000 people and the disruption of air traffic through much of the region after throwing a plume of dust 6 miles into the atmosphere. The Atlantic coverage from the 6th June 2011 has some of the most amazing photographic images of the eruption, and I recommend following this link and taking a moment to reflect on the power of nature in some truly amazing images.
Image number 12 on the list is a photograph submitted by @NevineZaki
on Twitter of protesters in Egypt. The significance of this picture falls in the fact that the image portrays Christian Egyptians forming a ring of protection around Muslims at prayer in Tahrir Square in Egypt. I was struck at the moment of national unity, when people of all walks of life, every religion, tribe, creed and sex, could come together and for a moment in time see beyond their differences. The image captured the imagination of the world and proved that when we really want to, human beings can live side by side in tolerance and acceptance. In adversity comes unity and unity is a powerful thing. The uprising in Egypt is a defining moment in our time. A moment that people came together to remind their leaders that they are not untouchable. The Arab spring has been remarkable to watch, and a source of hope that eventually one day the greater African population might take heart and learn that when we work together to overcome adversity, anything is possible.
Image number 38 was possibly the most disturbing image of the lot to me. The picture is one of such irony as it pictures a representative of an International Aid Agency in a smart suite holding an iPad taking a picture of the corpse of some African farmers livestock in a barren, desolate field. I am sure that the image was meant to visually demonstrate the effects of the famine in the Horn of Africa, but to me it just demonstrated the stark divide between the wealthy and the poor. It is the job of a professional photographer to produce an image that will evoke a multitude of emotions within the people who look at it, and in this case Stringer who is accredited with the picture has certainly achieved this. I was left with a sour taste in my mouth, thinking to myself that the owner of that animal could probably survive for a year on the amount of money that the Aid Worker has spent on his expensive suite and the technology that he was holding, yet he is more interested in acquiring a picture of a corpse to use for their next advertising campaign. This world is made up of contrast of madness and greed. The poor get poorer and the rich live in a world of copious consumerism and waste.
There are 45 fantastic images of all manner of subjects. Most of them were moments that stopped our world and dominated the headlines in one way or another. Many depict the human cost of tragedy and give a face to the pain of loss. But the last image, image number 45 is perhaps the one single image from which I draw hope. The image is well worth a look, and tell me if you don’t agree that through the eye of children, there is little wrong with our world. Life is full of hope, and fun and excitement and opportunity. If only as we got older we could maintain the optimism of youth a little more, we’d have a far more positive and productive society. This final image leaves you wondering if we can’t be a little more like the boy in the picture, and see good even in the heart of a war zone.