Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

The photographer who broke the internet’s heart

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It cannot be denied that the internet throws up many confusions. So much of what we understand to be true may not be so, or may be partly so, or completely true. This is an example of how the receiver or in this case viewer applies their own expectations upon an image

Thousands online have shared an image of a Syrian child with her hands raised in surrender – but what is the story behind it?

Those sharing it were moved by the fear in the child’s eyes, as she seems to staring into the barrel of a gun. It wasn’t a gun, of course, but a camera, and the moment was captured for all to see. But who took the picture and what is the story behind it? BBC Trending have tracked down the original photographer – Osman Sağırlı – and asked him how the image came to be.

It began to go viral Tuesday last week, when it was tweeted by Nadia Abu Shaban, a photojournalist based in Gaza. The image quickly spread across the social network. “I’m actually weeping”, “unbelievably sad”, and “humanity failed”, the comments read. The original post has been retweeted more than 11,000 times. On Friday the image was shared on Reddit, prompting another outpouring of emotion. It’s received more than 5,000 upvotes, and 1,600 comments.

Accusations that the photo was fake, or staged, soon followed on both networks. Many on Twitter asked who had taken the photo, and why it had been posted without credit. Abu Shaban confirmed she had not taken the photo herself, but could not explain who had. On Imgur, an image sharing website, one user traced the photograph back to a newspaper clipping, claiming it was real, but taken “around 2012”, and that the child was actually a boy. The post also named a Turkish photojournalist, Osman Sağırlı, as the man who took the picture.

Read the full explanation here

 

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One response to “The photographer who broke the internet’s heart

  1. oxfordschoolofphotography March 31, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    I forgot to mention that the title was from the BBC, surely they know the internet doesn’t have a heart?

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