Can Viewing Photos Be Hazardous to Your Health?

Can Viewing Photos Be Hazardous to Your Health?

Facebook’s content moderators have to look at some awful images and video to protect the rest of us from graphic content. Casey Newton at The Verge reports that many of these $15/hour contract workers have suffered PTSD or secondary PTSD symptoms, which led Sarah and Allen to ask whether viewing photos could be hazardous to your health.

From war photos to images of athletes with catastrophic injuries, what images should be published by the media, and what images should the public consume? Today’s podcast contains descriptions of graphic violence that may upsetting to some listeners.

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Sarah and Allen host PhotoShelter's Vision Slightly Blurred podcast

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This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the co-founder of PhotoShelter.

There is 1 comment for this article
  1. Ivor Markman at 2:49 am

    Interesting discussion, thanks. I’m a retired photojournalist and I covered many of the anti-apartheid riots in South Africa.
    With regard to your comment something about guys only being happy when they are photographing death and destruction, I would like to say that that might be true but only for some photogs.
    My personal feelings: I hated covering these situations but I did so because it was important that people know what was happening. Yes, there were those who strove to get the most gruesome photos because they wanted to become famous, but there were others who covered the conflict because they felt compelled to record for future generations what the consequences of conflict were.
    For example, the Holocaust.
    How can you bring over the horror of that event without showing people what actually happened?
    Talking about it is not the same.
    If it had not been for the publicity showing the horrors of apartheid the world would not have protested to the same extent, in fact, they probably would have done very little to stop it.
    It was around for many years without the world doing anything.
    With regard to the memory of the horrible photos I took, some are more disturbing because you know the message they carry, such as a photograph of police carrying a body-bag with the remains of a four-year-old girl who was murdered and her body dumped in the bush.
    Does that disqualify the image as a gruesome photo simply because it doesn’t show her remains?
    The expression on the faces of the police tells the whole story.
    What was the impact on the newspaper reader?
    I remember every violent photo I took. They are permanently imbedded in my mind. Before PTSD we used to say photographers had a “nervous breakdown”. In fact, I got my job because a photographer resigned after having one. I don’t think it was the images that affected him, rather, it was the stress of being in such scary situations that got to him.
    Keep up the good work but please, use a programme that allows the listener to control the volume.

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