Friday, January 12, 2007

Hillery Smith Garrison: AP Photographer & Christian Color Terrorist

Of all the photographs taken at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 following a "terrorist attack" there, only a certain percentage were taken by credible professional photojournalists and these we pay heed to, giving them credence over work we imagine is tinged with agendas more than mere reportage.

But, we had it backwards. In a nation as powerful as the U.S., as keen on pursuing wealth and dominance, as committed to inaugurating a new world order through violence and bloodshed, the co-opting of the media is a very old story.

One component, which I've identified as running through much of the professional output, makes psychological use of a color theory, where by the calculated application of tone, hue and chroma, effects can be achieved that lull, soften or even mislead the witness.

A group of images showing scenes of medical triages, for instance, by the AP, UPI, and the Washington Post, is remarkably distinct compared with the remaining record. We gain little in the way of traditional newsworthiness however--we aren't even told where these images are originating from, (I believe this triage took place in the center court of the Pentagon,) let alone learn the identity of any of the victims or responders, a normal function of action news photojournalism.

I have become convinced that all of the professionals with access that day were in the pocket of the Pentagon. The Associated Press' Will Morris took the iconic early shot of the burning building. How he achieved that feat would be news itself.

Morris took the shot of a badly burned Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell being loaded into an ambulance, although we don't learn that from him. Looking over his shoulder and taking a poorer picture, as a sort of verification perhaps, was his AP colleague, Hillery Smith Garrison. I judge her work that day as suspicious because it's atypically poor--if she were freely on the scene so early something more distinctive would have resulted.But then, suddenly, the veil of color theory lifted.

Compare the following two images. The first is credited to Garrison at the AP. My download is the 43.3KB version from, rather than the 16.38KB Washington Post version.

I owe credit to somebody, I can't remember whom, who first spotted the man with the shoulder bag in both of the images sandwiching this paragraph, which would indicate it's the same group of blue-shirted men at approximately the same time--the presence of fire in Garrison's image is not the smoking gun,, it could be explained away as having been recently extinguished.

The credit, publishing and download history of the second image is unknown to me at present, but I don't mistrust it--it fights the narrative as much as Garrison's delivers. It is a doctored image nonetheless. Reconcile the fire engine's melted backside with a functioning squirter--not.

Nothing gave the day away in my mind earlier than the man looking away, in our direction, with his hand on his hip talking on his cell phone. Don't men push out their hips like that when they're talking with their girlfriends and feeling cocky? Or is he talking to us? He's talking to me, big time. I've never mentioned him before because I like him so much, and his conduct is so egregious, I didn't want to see him get in trouble. "Hello, are you there? Can you hear me now?"

The preceding image is centered on the expanse of facade at issue. It is clear a row of six windows, or six columns, exists between the firetruck and the car. Apparently, the burnt cars were moved at some point later in the morning, towards the fire truck, in order to visually expand the crash impact area for subsequent images. The Garrison image came first of course. If each picture has a motive, here it would be an effort at obscuring the dexter tree to subconsciously expand the playing field.

I am not ambivalent, nor would Freud be, about the fallen Cedar of Lebanon in Garrison's shot, fully erect in the other. Garrison's shot, the beau ideal, was in my opinion an early manipulation to which the subsequent matching of reality didn't catch up. Conflicts such as these are the continuity resolution issues that Hollywood excels at.

I've never learned what the green containers held--powdered oxygen is as good a guess as any--but their relevancy to color theory is clear. Perhaps the other shot, with a different manipulation, is meant to serve as a scrim or confounder. What is being disguised is the gravest of professional sins--image manipulation. Garrison's shot has redacted the space between the damaged see-in area of the Pentagon and the red fire truck. The width between the truck and the car is impossible to account for in Garrison's image--not explainable by a change in the angle of the point-of-view. I count a row of four intact windows on both the first and second stories that in Garrison's view are shown as a vision of hell.

And that my friends, is what motivates Hillery Smith Garrison--the repercussions of hell. Hillery Smith Garrison is, without apology, a photographer with an agenda.

A quick Google pops up Christians in Photojournalism,

"Hillery Smith Garrison is, without apology, a photographer with an agenda
"It’s OK to be a photographer with an agenda," she says, at least if the
agenda itself is a good one."

An African-American graduate of Haverford, with personal agendas as diverse as seeing black men depicted in a positive light, her agenda on September 11 can be surmised.
"There are days that I come away feeling very fulfilled even if I didn’t shoot the
best photo. Sometimes I feel like the real reason for me to be there is to pray.’

In Christian photographers tell of focusing on Jesus, she says
"Every single assignment we get is a two-part assignment," Hillery Smith Garrison said during the conference at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, March 26-28. "Go out knowing that there are always two reasons why you're sent -- one is that you hope what you shoot gets in the paper, but the other is most important: You may be the only piece of Jesus they see."
Ms. Garrison may be disappointed to know that the piece of Jesus I see through her I want no part of. People, as well as storyboards, have reconciliation issues to deal with. Whatever the impulses, conflicts, and immaterial motivations that inspired her were, she has aligned herself with a diabolical and evil force, and she is far from walking her Christian talk. She now has an opportunity to personally experience one of the highest of Christian virtues--forgiveness based on confession.

Armageddon, that which is hidden shall be revealed, is underway.

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