The contradiction between the aesthetic and the moral seemed to reach a crisis toward the end of World War II, when photographers entered the concentration camps and saw for the first time the reality of the horror that had until then not been widely visible, though certainly rumored. One British photographer, George Rodger, solved the dilemma by refusing to contaminate a sense of outrage with any aesthetic dimension. Rodger, who would become in 1947 one of the cofounders of Magnum, found himself at one point in the act of photographing a pile of corpses, "subconsciously arranging groups and bodies on the ground into artistic compositions in the viewfinder." (In fact, Rodger was not the first photographer to arrange corpses for the camera—Alexander Gardner had staged some of his most famous images as well in photographing the aftermath of Gettysburg, but it took scholars more than a hundred years to figure that out.) Rodger's realization that he was treating "this pitiful human flotsam as if it were some gigantic still-life" led to a paralyzing self-consciousness: aware of the grotesque contradiction between aesthetic requirements and his sense of moral outrage, he stopped taking pictures.
Miles Orvell. After 9/11: Photography, the Destructive Sublime, and the Postmodern Archive. Michigan Quarterly Review (2006), XLV, 2.