There are images we remember all our lives.
Depending on where you were born and how old you are, they’re different for everyone — for me it’s Nelson Mandela, or Princess Diana cradling a child infected with HIV, or the Twin Towers on 9/11 — but we all have them.
These images capture something essential about their subjects. Some of them are referred to as “heart-stopping” or “beautiful pictures,” but they’re more than that. They’re true.
The truth of images is what gives them their power and explains why so many go to such lengths to censor or black them out.
Today, the job of the person behind the lens has never been more important. It also has never been more threatened.
The barbaric slayings of journalists in Syria are fresh in our minds. The 2011 loss of our own beloved Chris Hondros in Libya still haunts us. The safety of journalists is something we take very close to heart.
At the time of writing, the Committee to Protect Journalists reports that 40 journalists have been killed in 2014. Many others – too many – are missing, exiled or imprisoned. This year journalists worked amid unprecedented surveillance and intimidation. Getty Images, together with other great media organizations and the CPJ, reaffirmed our commitment to combating these trends.
It takes a lot to help the world see itself. Apart from the technical side of their work, photojournalists are expert at building relationships in tough situations, tapping into their natural empathy, curiosity and trustworthiness. Whether they are covering hard news in Gaza or the Ukraine or West Africa, documenting the sweaty symphony of sport or capturing the iconic moments of the world’s most famous people, their jobs require a tremendous amount of responsibility.
They are some of the bravest people I’ve ever met.
John Moore is among them. He was one of the first photographers to travel to Liberia to cover the Ebola epidemic there and shed light on the harrowing impact of this disease. It was not easy. He packed 24 sets of coveralls, masks and boot covers; a half-dozen goggles; rubber boots and 400 rubber gloves for this assignment (some of which he shared with aid workers when their own supplies dwindled). He went to great lengths to document the crisis for the world to see, and it did. As his images ran in the world’s major news publications, people and governments worldwide began to mobilize against the disease. Risking his life helped to save others, no question, and I was proud to shake his hand and give him a hug when he came home to New York.
Images matter. What we do – what all of us do with these images – matters.
At Getty Images we provide coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from all corners of the world, and we are constantly evolving the way we bring those stories to you.
I encourage you to spend some time with this book (link), and let the pictures get to you. The stories, emotions and contemplations they inspire might surprise you. Let them. That’s the power of photography.
That’s Getty Images.