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December 4, 2012

The “New” George Zimmerman Picture: Black and White in Color

George Zimmerman bloody nose

Having followed the significant visuals in the Trayvon Martin case since the beginning, this photo just released by the Zimmerman defense team from that fateful night last February seems to tell us less about the murder than about the limits of photography, particularly the problem of context and the inherently emotional quality of pictures.

As a defense image and still one more object of persuasion in the digital public square, we see Zimmerman gazing directly at us in what seems like an appeal and assertion that, having been bloodied by Trayvon Martin, he was acting in self-defense.

With Zimmerman seeming to engage you and I personally with that look, we can intellectually understand there’s a defined context but still be lured by the gaze. In spite of the elements inside the vehicle, the tightness of the frame tends to obscure the fact Zimmerman is submitting to a policeman’s camera for the purpose of evidence gathering, sitting in a squad car after the shooting (wearing handcuffs, I believe).

Emotionally, that creasing of the forehead and the pensive expression pulls for a more empathetic response, the close-up amplifying a sense of intimacy. To the extent Zimmerman was the instigator, pursuing Martin against the police dispatcher’s advice (just to mention a single complicating factor), you get little sense of it here. Instead, the jarring impact of the sight of blood makes Zimmerman again (in comparison to the absence of any photos of Martin from that evening) seem like the victim here. Again, unavoidably relating to this in an emotional way, any number of basic facts and issues go out the window — including, for example, the relative severity of the injuries or the extent to which any of Zimmerman’s blood was found on Martin (especially in light of his claim that his mouth and nose were covered by Trayvon (1 and 2).

Perhaps the most interesting impact of the photo, though, is simply the color. As widely reported, this photo isn’t new. It’s just a clearer color version of a grainy black-and-white photocopy released by the court months ago. That appeared online in slightly different versions, this one by NPR:


while TalkLeft just posted this one:

Seeing the versions together, clarity and cropping account for significant differences. Still, what’s even more impressive perceptually is how much color interjects intensity and emotion.

It’s one thing to try and make sense of the facts in this case. It’s another to take each key photo as it comes along, from either side, and try to tease out how it plays with your head.

(photo 1: / December 3, 2012. photo 2: Sanford Police Dept.)

  • bks3bks

    Dried blood is never that red. I think the colors are photoshopped.


    • LarryEwho

      I noticed that, too. I couldn’t help but wonder if he picked at scabs over some dried blood so it would bleed more and make him look more bloodied than he actually was.

  • Stanco55

    The flash accentuates the color. What’s ludicrous is that a bloody nose (that he purposely sought out) is somehow equivalent with needlessly taking someone’s life.

  • Scarabus

    How about a side by side of this and Martin’s bullet wound? Trayvon Martin was the one “standing his ground.”

  • bresson

    “I ignored police warnings and stalked an unarmed kid with my gun. Even though the kid wasn’t causing any trouble, I harassed him, accosted him, and finally shot him. BUT I’M THE REAL VICTIM HERE!”

  • Cactus

    I find it difficult to even look at these photos. There is something
    darkly engrossing and equally repulsive about this man. The fact that, at this
    late date, Z’s team is still releasing ‘enhanced’ (?) versions of photos only
    makes their defense seem more cunning and manipulative. As if to see blood on
    his face justifies his killing of another human. If he did not have a gun,
    would he have followed the scary black man in the dark and challenged him? Did
    he hope to ‘capture’ a stalker (or worse) and become a hero in his community?
    (Many police wannabes do have that motive, I’ve read.) Or was he really, truly,
    out to kill a black man? We will never hear the answer from his lips (or his
    lawyers’). The job of the defense, now, is to sway public opinion to have
    sympathy for the perp before the trial starts. The leaking of these photos is
    just the start — will it work for a southern jury?

  • paradise

    people will call anyhthing self defense these days

    • hardu

      Throw is ass in prison and be done with it.

  • secondeve

    Gz seems to be saying “see, I have blood on me, that’s justification for doing what I did”
    While at the same time he seems to be by his look (smirk) daring people to disprove his claims.
    His agenda, cunning & manipulative as another poster described it is not the half of it.
    Gz said himself that Tm was running away. Once tm started running away, he posed no threat. If the threat is removed there is no cause for self defense.
    Both parties came into close proximity of one another, it didn’t happen by osmosis.
    If one party is running away, the other had to pursue in order for them to eventually take up the same space or be in the same location.
    Gz knows what he did was wrong, that is why he is trying so hard to convince everyone he is innocent, because he’s not & he knows it.
    Neighborhood watch duty or not, he did not follow the guidelines, and he claims he was not on duty at that time but going to the store.
    If he wasn’t on duty he had no authority to even make a step in Tm direction unless he saw him in the act of committing a felony.
    If he was on duty, he had authority to carry a weapon while on neighborhood watch duty, in addition to that he had no authority given or implied by neighborhood watch to follow tm.
    He is a civilian, he is not a police officer, he is not a legitimate security guard, he had no authority whatsoever to follow tm even if he felt he was suspicious.
    People say its not illegal to follow someone, but it is if you make them fearful.
    That’s what stalking laws are for.
    Tm was fearful, he was frightened & it showed by him telling his gf about it.
    If he was not worried about it he wouldn’t have told her anything.
    Most tough kids don’t say much to anyone about what they are nervous or anxious about even if it does worry them, which only shows that tm is not the tough trouble maker kid gz camp is trying to make him out to be.
    Why aren’t we hearing anything else about trayvons school records from that camp?
    Could it be they didn’t find any ammunition to help them ?
    If they did it is certain we would hear all about it, but instead we are being treated to a colorized photo that was previously released & news about a frivolous at best lawsuit against a major media outlet.
    ALL criminals belong in jail. Murder is a crime.

  • secondeve

    * that should be he had no authority to carry a weapon if he was on neighborhood watch duty.
    Gz seems to want to have it both ways whenever it suits him.
    When it comes to a reason or justification for following tm he’s a neighborhood watch captain.
    When it comes to carrying a weapon while following tm, he wasn’t on duty at that time.
    Can’t have it both ways.

  • Lee Viola

    Zimmerman? Human tampon.

  • 1nancy2

    Z Monster needs to go to jail..for good. CREEP; just hideous.

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