GUATEMALA CITY – Gervasio Sanchez, a Spanish photographer who covered wars in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America for more than 30 years, is convinced that dignity must be put ahead of sensationalism.
“There is a tendency in humans to have a morbid fascination for death. We like it, but I think we should avoid it. I think that morbid photos are useless,” Sanchez told EFE during an interview in Guatemala, a country where he began his career as a photographer in the 1980s and where he is now opening a retrospective exhibition.
Sanchez captures images showing what daily life is like in the ruins of war, instead of centering on death and destruction.
“I focus more on showing how civilians try to survive in the middle of the chaos created by war,” the photographer said.
Sanchez was not always so sure about his approach to war photography.
When he covered the Bosnian War, he was concerned that people would think he was presenting a “decaffeinated vision of violence and conflict,” yet he knew that it was crucial to present the effects of war on daily life and not just the destruction and mayhem.
Sanchez has strong feelings about this point, so much so that he stopped working with certain media outlets that did not understand his point of view.
“If I had followed what media outlets wanted, it would have been of no help to society, to freedom of the press, to democracy or to my independence as a journalist,” he said.
“A society without good journalism, be it Guatemalan or Spanish society (...), is doomed to failure and manipulation,” the photographer said.
Sanchez has observed the effects of war up close, which is why he abhors it.
“War is the greatest failure of human kind and of a nation,” he said while walking through the exhibition of 40 mostly unpublished photos.
The exhibition, named simply “Life of Gervasio Sanchez,” opened Friday in Guatemala City.