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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


Lindsey Beyerstein: "PTSD Cheesecake"

A big thanks to Lindsey Beyerstein for this great post - THANKS LINDSAY!

The New York Times ran quite a good article about female vets with PTSD.

I don't know what to make of the accompanying photographs by Katy Grannan, an famous fine art photographer who specializes micromanaging her portraits to produce outwardly natural looking portraits that evoke the aesthetics of fashion photography, pinup art and other commercial source material.

The photograph above is the largest and most prominent of the images accompanying the PTSD story. The picture shows 21-year-old Army specialist Suzanne Swift reclining on a black, rocky beach with her hand on her inner thigh. The article explains Swift went AWOL to rather than return for a second tour of duty in Iraq.

If there's a message here, I don't get it. Why would you dress a veteran in jeans and a tight baby t-shirt to pose like a swimsuit model on a beach in order to illustrate a story about how she got PTSD in Iraq and went AWOL? I'm not saying it's a bad photograph. Actually, I think it's very good technically and aesthetically. It just doesn't make any sense.

Here's ">another portrait from the same series. The subject is a naval construction worker whose war-related PTSD in Iraq was exacerbated by the fact that she was also raped by fellow Americans. There's something weirdly sexualized about this image. Look at the angle of the shot. She's wearing a knee-length skirt, but she's positioned so that her bare legs and daintily flexed ankle command as much attention as her face. Like Suzanne Swift, the construction worker is reclining on one arm, this time on a white couch rather than a beach. Her other hand is on her thigh, like Swift's.

Here's another subtle variant on the ">lounging pose , in which the barefoot Keri Christensen leans back into a corner with one leg slightly bent at the knee and flexed ballerina-like at the ankle.

If you watch the full ">multimedia presentation you'll find a ">relatively traditional portrait of the same Navy vet sitting

up and looking at the camera. The difference in effect is striking.

I can't find a way to link to the individual stills within the

Flash presentation. So, I'll just explain where to find the relevant shots: The traditional portrait is image #3 in the series. Image #4 is a beautiful picture of Army Sgt. Jane Bulson in the door of her camper, but again with the thigh-clutching.

Grannan is well-known for fine art photos influenced by /">pinups and other vintage erotica--her website is probably not safe for work, but definitely worth a visit. She is internationally famous for applying fashion and commercial photography methods and aesthetics to intricately composed informal-looking posed portraits of non-models.

Maybe in her assignment for the NYT PTSD story Grannan is parodying pinup photos to make a point how these women soldiers were regarded by their male colleagues. After all, it doesn't seem like Grannan intended to make her subjects appear to happy or comfortable in the positions she chose for them.

Would the New York Times run a picture of conscientious objector ">Ehren Watada awaiting his court martial like a ">faun in repose?

I'm guessing they wouldn't, even if Lt. Watada was willing to indulge
the photographer.

[HT: ">zuzu]

Lindsay Beyerstein is a New York journalist blogging at ">Majikthise.

- posted by Lindsey Beyerstein