In an online article titled Deadly Images: A Q&A with Barbie Zelizer, the article author has a discussion with Zelizer via email about the role of deadly images in photojournalism and culture. The article goes into detail about how images of the dead and dying are powerful, yet because of their strength, many people will become squeamish and turn away. This public reaction towards these types of images has turned organizations away from images of the dead and instead towards ‘about-to-die’ images. The author of the article, Jack Shafer, mentions that “…these [about-to-die] images play to what could be rather than what is. Instead of supporting pictures as a documentation of reality, images of impending death push the “as if” of what they depict as much as what transpires on the ground.”
The above picture is from the live coverage of the Red Bull Stratos: Mission to the Edge of Space, from the Red Bull website. Felix Baumgartner, the man in the pressure suit, is on his way into the capsule that will be carrying him up to approximately 120,000 ft above the Earth. Without having much context to this event, we already know that anybody in an astronaut uniform is likely going to be risking their lives in the harsh environment outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. Are ‘about-to-die’ images like this what strengthens our concept of heroes; people who are about to put their life on the line for a particular cause?