Biography of a Photo

Two iconic photographs of conflict shape the course of history and inspire a quest for justice.   

This feature-length documentary film traces the life stories, the biographies, of two iconic images—one taken in Panama (1989), the other in Bosnia (1992)—that have led extraordinary existences.

After their initial dissemination in the news, these two photos “grow up” and reappear in other, unexpected spheres of society; they are also, shockingly, subject to institutionalized disappearances. And amidst these twists and turns of the photos’ histories exist two individuals whose lives were forever changed by the events captured on film. To this day, Manuel from Panama and Alma from Bosnia are using the iconic photos in a painful search for justice. 

Meet the Directors

Ron Haviv is an Emmy-nominated, award-winning photographer and co-founder of the agency VII, dedicated to documenting conflict and raising awareness about human rights issues around the globe. In the last three decades, Haviv has covered more than twenty-five conflicts and worked in over one hundred countries. He has published four critically acclaimed collections of photography, and his work has been featured in numerous museums and galleries, including the Louvre, the United Nations, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Dr. Lauren Walsh is a professor and writer. She teaches at The New School and New York University, where she is the Director of Gallatin’s Photojournalism Lab. Walsh is coeditor of The Future of Text and Image (2012) and Millennium Villages Project (2016), and editor of Macondo: Memories of the Colombian Conflict (2017). Her latest book is Conversations on Conflict Photography (2019), and she is Director of Lost Rolls America, a national public archive of photography and memory.

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Press for Biography of a Photo

New York Times

“A pictorial guide to Hell. Stark images trace the Balkans’ descent and a photographer’s determination.” 


“Ron Haviv has courageously and with great feeling documented that appalling horror so that the rest of the world will never forget.”

Christian Science Monitor

“The future of the region remains clouded, but Haviv’s powerful collection of photographs will never allow us to forget its past.”


“Haviv's photo of Ford being beaten, his white guayabera shirt drenched in blood, hit the cover of TIME magazine on 22 May 1989. President George HW Bush could not help but take note.”

La Estrella

 "The life of an iconic photo, 27 years later. A photographer and an academic try to answer, what happens to a shocking image when the world stops paying attention?" 

La Presnsa

"And Haviv's photograph will be here to remember a dark time. A click and a bloody guayabera shirt shook a regime."

To Support the Film


A tax-deductible donation can be made via a non-profit in Panama or the United States.

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