Peter van Agtmael: media censureren meer dan leger VS

De Amerikaanse fotograaf Peter van Agtmael stelt vast dat de Amerikaanse media meer beelden uit Irak buiten de publiciteit houden dan de medewerkers van het Amerikaanse leger die het werk van ‘embedded’ fotojournalisten controleren.
Van Agtmael was begin dit jaar een van de winnaars bij World Press Photo, met een foto van een inval van het Amerikaanse leger in een Iraakse woning. Hij werd onlangs geïnterviewd door sterrenkundige/fotoschrijver Jörg M. Colberg, over Van Agtmaels ontwikkeling als oorlogsfotograaf.

Over de zelfcensuur van de Amerikaanse media zegt hij:
‘While there has been a lot of phenomenal and revealing coverage of the war, especially by The New York Times, my main experience with censorship has come from the media, not the military. I will cite a few examples.

A few days after finishing my first tour to Iraq, I picked up a copy of a very well known American magazine at the airport in Holland. I was flipping through it absently when I came upon a brutal picture I had taken of the aftermath of a suicide bombing, run across nearly a full page [see photo above]. I called my parents to tell them the good news and they went out to buy a copy. In the U.S. edition, in place of my picture they found an image of a few helicopters taking off. I was pretty crushed.

A few months later I got an email from a friend in England saying that one of my pictures of a wounded American soldier had run in another major American magazine. I went out to buy a copy and in the U.S. edition was a picture of a soldier running through a darkened room.

In 2007 I won a World Press Photo award for a series of twelve photographs on night raids. I received a lot of publicity, and the pictures were published all over, but to my knowledge there hasn’t been a single picture from that series that ran in the U.S. To fund my trips, I did assignments. One was to photograph a USO show, another was to photograph a soldier training for the Boston marathon, and still another was to photograph the Marsh Arabs in southern Iraq. They were enjoyable, but in seven months of embedding I only received one assignment to photograph combat operations, and that story was never published.’

• Lees het hele interview: A conversation with Peter van Agtmael