The Camera Never Lies?

A Somali boy walks with a toy gun along Lindo Beach, near Mogadishu, on August 8, 2013. Muslims worldwide were celebrating the holiday Eid Al-Fitr which marks the end of Ramadan.

It is said that the camera doesn’t lie. In a split second, photographing a boy walking on a beach with a toy gun can, in so many ways, reflect global issues. The trick is making you believe it’s relevant.

Readers need to understand that a photograph should never be taken on face value.

A photojournalist is aware of the story he needs to tell. His images are his tools and sometimes they make you see a completely different reality. In this image a toy gun, child, beach and the word Somalia all combine to tell you that this could be a Somali child soldier.

The reality has nothing to do with this child being a soldier. It’s supposed to be a slice-of-life moment of Ramadan. The irony of seeing a deadly weapon, even if it’s a toy, carried by a kid on a day of festivity in an Islam based country… complete the dots. Generalizations are never pretty.

But it shocks. The lesson is simple; readers need to understand that a photograph should never be taken on face value.

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