A career in photojournalism has Hugh Pinney somewhat desensitized but the Ebola crisis has jolted him to react.
This article was originally published on Hugh's personal blog.
"I must have seen hundreds of thousands of news images across my screen in various jobs and guises in the world of photojournalism over the course of 25 odd years. Many of them hail from conflict zones, from natural disasters and places on earth where the human condition is somehow coming unstitched.
I have become inured, if not blasé about much of this. I’m not proud of it, but images of dead or mutilated bodies have little effect on me; as a father I find images of children caught up or injured in conflict harder to handle but I have a relatively thick skin even where they are concerned.
Every now and then, however, my belief in the raw power of great photography has 10,000 volts put through it, and is kicked viciously into life. Truly great photography can and should stop you in your tracks. It should surprise, you, amaze you, inspire you and sometimes shock you enough to challenge or even change the way you think.
I defy anyone to look through the work of Getty Images photographer John Moore, just landed in Monrovia, and not know instinctively that we are getting this Ebola thing wrong. Look at the pictures, read the captions – for they are just as potent, then ask yourself if we, as a global society, are getting our priorities right.
Patients are dropping dead in front of him, their final moments documented, in a makeshift isolation centre (a schoolroom). Disinfectant sprayed from a backpack sprayer I might use for greenfly, is administered at arm’s length like fairy dust. Morgue workers are kitted out with plastic bags tied on their heads as protection, a hole ripped in the side, through which they can see and breathe.
Pause for a moment. Plastic bags, to counter the spread of Ebola – a virus with 90% fatality rate, no known cure or effective treatment that kills a human in 8-9 days. Plastic bags, school classrooms and Dettol.
There are too many comparisons to make, too many “what-ifs” to make it worthwhile considering. Just look at the images, allow their message to sink in, and see if you remain comfortable."
Hugh Pinney is Vice President, Editorial Imagery for Getty Images.
Pinney joined Getty Images in 2003 as Managing Editor, News EMEA. Pinney is responsible for managing all photojournalists and running the news gathering operation across EMEA and Asia. Managing a team of photojournalists and working with Getty Images’ picture desks in London and New York, Pinney also oversees news imagery output to clients.
Pinney comes from a strong editorial background; as a Reuters veteran, Pinney held the positions of Picture Editor for their online news service and Assignment Editor for their UK desk. Pinney began his career as a photojournalist, graduating from South West News to work as a freelance covering all aspects of the news for a number of Fleet Street titles.
Read photographer John Moore's story from Liberia.