Joe Rosenthal’s famous photograph of Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima is now in the news. There’s a bit of a controversy over who, exactly, is in the photograph.
Regardless how that question is resolved, it’s a reminder of the influence certain images have on us.
I recall reading the story about Associated Press Photographer Joe Rosenthal snapping that photo—the fighting going on all around him, his sense that the flag raising would be good to capture, his swinging the camera up just in time to capture the pic, his sending it in with the rest of his photos, and the inclusion of that photo in newspapers across the country within hours.
That became my inspiration for my character Frank Robertson, in my story “After the Martians,” published just yesterday. During the Great War, the editors of The American Magazine send Frank to the front to capture scenes of heroic American military prowess. As you follow Frank through the story, you’ll see that he thinks like a photographer, with a sense of color, contrast, texture, shadow, etc.
Like Rosenthal, Robertson goes through hell to reach the perfect spot and swings his Graflex Speed Graphic camera up just in time to snap a Pulitzer-winning shot of a lifetime.
Frank Robertson isn’t the main character of “After the Martians,” and it’s certainly not a book about photography. But the difficult work of wartime photographers such as Rosenthal does not go unappreciated by—