Pete Souza’s Official White House Photo of The Situation Room
The death of Osama Bin Laden has generated intense debates around photography and imagery. IMSO provides a comprehensive round-up the of the unfolding image story, from the truly compelling to the simply bizarre. 


1. Photoshopped Twitter Coup 

Bin Laden is dead. But the photos of his corpse run by newspapers aren’t real. New York magazine report on the original photoshopped image (warning, very graphic) mistakenly used by AP and some UK papers. This composite of a corpse and a Bin Laden image from 1998 was another coup for Twitter as it was apparently a Twitter user who revealed it as fake.


2. The Situation Room

Rex Hammock at Rex blog looks at Pete Souza’s Situation Room image at the size the photographer or photo editor would have viewed it at  4996 x 2731 pixels, then drills down into the rich detail of the photo, ‘The photo tells a story of an entire room of people, but this is a photograph of Hillary Clinton. And, frankly, it is one of the most powerful, honest photographs you’ll ever see of a public figure.”


3.  Fastest Viewed Flickr Photo Ever

Techcrunch reports that The Situation Room image is more than half way towards being “the current most viewed Flickr photo, the relatively banal snapshot of Nohkalikai Falls, Cherraphunjee which was taken in 2006 and has garned 2,978,625 views after five years. The Situation Room photo amassed its 1,597,561 views after a little under 38 hours.”


4.  Primitive Need To See

The White House debates whether to show the graphic images of the bloodied Bin Laden. Jorg Colberg, creator of the influential photography blog Conscientious writes in the Wall Street Journal blog Speakeasy, that we have a primitive need to see images of death in the face. “Our minds work with images, often in distressing ways,” writes Colberg. “Let’s be aware of that, instead of denying it. We want to see.”


5.  Snaps Of The Aftermath

Reuters fill out some gaps in the visual story by buying images [warning graphic imagery] from a Pakistani security guard taken about an hour after the raid


6. Time Cover X

Fashion bible Women’s Wear Daily reports on the Time magazine Osama Bin Laden with a red x on the cover. “The former Al Qaeda leader is only the fourth person in the magazine’s history to appear on the cover in this manner,” says WWD,  “following Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.”


Time Cover by Tim O’Brien


7. Dr No and Dr Strangelove

Mark Lamster in The Design Observer compares fictional images with real photographs looking at the imagery of Bin Laden’s ‘Lair’ in Pakistan, contrasting it with the bunkers of Bond villains created by legendary British production designer Ken Adam. Comparing the images of the Pete Souza’s Situation Room and the Ken Adam-design War Room in Dr. Strangelove Lamster writes, “By any stretch, it is a far cry from the war room Adam created for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove: a massive room, dramatically lit, with an immense circular table and global maps on the walls. Adam said, and the anecdote may be apocryphal, that after his election, one of the first things Ronald Reagan wanted to see was this room. Hollywood shaped his vision. It shapes ours, too.”


8. Internet Photo Memes

The Atlantic magazine collects the different kinds of Photoshop work in the Situation Room that have swept around the internet.



9. Bin Laden’s Image in Advertising

Meanwhile Ivan at Creativebits and Copyranter show, advertising created over the years, using the image of Bin Laden or using images alluding to him. This ad is for DHL in the mid 2000s.



10. And finally, Adweek pick up on an unfortunate juxtaposition of images on the CNN website, between the news story and the advertising running around it.




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