Was this famous war photo staged? Errol Morris explains.

Roger Fenton’s 1855 photo “The Valley of the Shadow of Death” is the first famous war photograph, depicting a barren road littered with cannonballs fired during the Crimean War. But there is a second photo of the same road without cannonballs, which has led photo historians, including American writer and filmmaker Susan Sontag, to argue that the famous photo is staged. This means that the photo without cannonballs was taken first, and the photo with cannonballs was arranged and taken second.

American documentary filmmaker Errol Morris has gone through a burrow of interviews and photo analysis to determine if this order of the photos – with cannonballs first on the road, then on them – is correct, based solely on what is present in the photographs themselves.

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