Austria's House of Horrors
Some news photos are exploitive. Some simply feed our interest in the macabre and horrible. The shot above is a little of both, but also absolutely necessary. It shows the interior of the cellar pf the Austrian house in which Josef Fritzi, imprisoned his daughter Elisabeth for 24 years. During that time, as we know now, he fathered seven children by her. When I heard first heard the story I began to prepare myself for the photos that would inevitably follow. But I also needed to see this chamber of horrors. The photos provide evidence that is crucial to our ability to really understand the story. What seems impossible to believe can be believed after seeing this image. What contradicts our common understanding of human behavior is proven to in fact have happened. Fritzi's acts are not fable or superstition—not simply evil—because we have seen the room where it really happened. We need the photo to give the story meaning.
The Texas Polygamy Ranch
Photographer Tony Gutierrez of the Associated Press has been covering the story of the Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, and his images have appeared in publications around the world. The ranch was home to a polygamist sect and was raided by state authorities after they received allegations of physical abuse by a 16-year-old girl. The authorities removed some 400 children and arrested leaders of the sect. Gutierrez has pictures of the aftermath of the raid, including aerials of the ranch's compound and shots of members being loaded onto busses by child welfare officials. The shot below shows a member of the sect holding a picture of his family, now in state custody. I found it online today, along with the latest news to emerge from Texas—authorities announced that more than half of the teenage girls taken from the ranch have children or are pregnant. Here, the picture is given meaning by the context of the news. And the news isn't good.--David Schonauer