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Photojournalist shows reality of war in exhibit

Friday, April 08, 2011

An image of war in Afghanistan that will be part of a Point Park campus exhibit by photojournalist Bill Putnam.

April 2011

Point Park visitors and students were moved by the University’s new photojournalism exhibition, says senior Joel Brewton.

“The expressions on the soldiers’ faces are so honest, it’s breathtaking,” Brewton says of the portraits in “Faces of Battle, Afghanistan” by photojournalist Bill Putnam.

The exhibition is open in the Lawrence Hall gallery now through April 25, 2011.

The professional photographer came to campus on Friday, April 8 to discuss his works in a lecture in the JVH Auditorium in Thayer Hall.

Bill Putnam speaks at Point Park University
Bill Putnam speaks in JVH auditorium. Photo by Joel Brewton, senior photojournalism major
Putnam is a military-trained photojournalist who in the summer of 2010 documented the war in Afghanistan while embedded with the Abu Company, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment. His works include both portraits of U.S. and Afghan soldiers and documentary images of the regiment at work in the field.  Many of the images in the exhibit Putnam photographed using Kodachrome, which is no longer available, making him one of the last war photographers to use the film.

The photojournalist says his images don’t comment on the conflict itself, but instead provide a window into those most affected by it.

“There is a big chasm between what civilian society knows and what the military experiences,” says Putnam.  “I want people, particularly students, to see war on the faces of people involved on a daily basis.”

Putnam’s work has been published in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Newsweek magazine, Army Times, the Oregonian newspaper, Columbia Journalism Review, The New Republic magazine, NPR.org and digitaljournalist.org.

Afghanistan was his first trip back to war since leaving Iraq in June 2006 after nearly two years.

“Bill Putnam doesn’t sugarcoat the experiences of those involved in war,” says Kelly Cline, a junior studying photojournalism and global cultural studies. “His photos show what’s real and happening right now.”

Cline is the president of the National Press Photographers Association, Point Park chapter, which is sponsoring the exhibit and lecture with the School of Communication.  Cline and other students worked with advisor and Assistant Professor Christopher Rolinson to bring the exhibition to Point Park.


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