Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Article : Matsushige Yoshito
Yoshito Matsushige was the only person/photographer who took photos of his native Hiroshima soon after the first atomic bomb was dropped in 1945. Here an extract of the story from Japan Focus :
Inscribing Hiroshima: The Photography of Matsushige Yoshito
There are dozens of brilliant war photographers, but there is only one Yoshito Matsushige.
For many years, Matsushige, 92, worked for a major metro daily called Chugoku Shimbun. He may not have been the greatest war photographer ever but he is unique: he took the only photographs in Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, the day the first atomic bomb was detonated over the city, killing 150,000 people.
Photos of war are very much with us today, with fierce debates over whether we are seeing too much of one kind (Americans getting mutilated or strung up on bridges) and not enough of another (civilians dying in Fallujah and other cities). On Aug. 6, 1945, Matsushige wandered around Hiroshima for 10 hours, carrying one of the few cameras that survived the atomic bombing and two rolls of film with twenty-four possible exposures. This was no ordinary photo opportunity. He lined up one gripping shot after another but he could only push the shutter seven times.
When he was done he returned to his home and developed the pictures in the most primitive way, since every dark room in the city, including his own, had been destroyed. Under a star-filled sky, with the landscape around him littered with collapsed homes and the center of Hiroshima still smoldering in the distance, he washed his film in a radiated creek and hung it out to dry on the burned branch of a tree.
Five of the seven images came out, and they are all the world will ever know of what Hiroshima looked like on that day. Only Matsushige knows what the 17 photos he didn't take would have looked like.