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The Horror of Having a Powerful Photo Go Viral Online


If you think having your photography go viral online is always a good thing, be careful what you wish for. American documentary photographer Nina Berman found that it can be quite a nightmare.

Berman recently gave at talk at The BlowUp, NYC about her famous wedding photo of high school sweethearts Renée Kline and US Marine Sergeant Ty Ziegel, who was physically marred by the Iraq War. You can find the entire talk in the 9-minute video above.

After capturing her iconic shot in July 2006, Berman won 1st prize in the Portraits category of the prestigious 2007 World Press Photo contest.

The win earned Berman and her photo a great deal of attention, both good and bad. While she was able to hold exhibitions in major venues around the world, the photo was also seized by the Internet and used for all kinds of memes and messages. Even Donald Trump requested to use her photo, but Berman shot down virtually all the requests.

“My feeling was if […] I let the picture out too much it would lose its power and become a crass display for manipulators and idiots,” Berman says in her talk.

After it started to get out of control, she started trying to hide the photo as much as she could. But the Internet has a mind of its own, and the photo continued to spread because “it has enormous viral potential.”

Berman even started trying to comment on posts that used her photo in an attempt to bring the conversation back to its rightful place.

“It’s a very strange thing to have fought really hard in my career to make a story known about a subject that people were trying to hide, which is the human cost of war, and then feeling that I need to keep this picture, which I know is a very powerful picture, under wraps because for me the viral experience was very crass,” concludes Berman.

(via Feature Shoot)