Photojournalists are the eyes of the world. In both war and peace, they show us the stories happening around the globe, whether it’s victims of armed conflict or a rare glimpse of nature. It’s been more than three years since we first saw the photo of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi lying face down on a sandy Turkish beach, and yet I bet you can still picture it. Its impact on Syrian refugee relief was immediate.
In a cinematic, five-minute new ad, the camera brand Leica conveys the stress, focus, and sheer drive of photojournalists by depicting a cross-section of life-threatening situations these photographers often find themselves in.
Created by Brazilian agency F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, “The Hunt” is a powerful piece of storytelling, but it somehow manages to miss its true potential by keeping within the confines of fiction. There’s one explicit reference to the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 Beijing and the famous “Tank Man” photo, but no mention of the photographer Jeff Widener. There’s an unpredictable African warlord, Middle Eastern conflict, among others, but each of these would pack a more emotional punch if the link to the real world, with real situations being covered by real photographers, were more evident. There are enough photojournalists out there risking their lives that an honor roll at the end showing some of the real faces taking these risks would make a significantly bigger impact. Or an acknowledgement of photojournalists killed in the line of duty. Anything to illustrate to the viewer that these are real people, risking their actual lives.
While the film is compelling, without that connection to reality, it comes across as just another pretty picture that’s trying to sell you something.
UPDATE: A previous version of this post didn’t specifically reference Tiananmen Square or photographer Jeff Widener.