Photographs of war are meant to convey emotion no matter who sees the photo. What someone feels can be universal if the photograph does not have a caption. It is when a caption portrays the story behind the photo that the message and the feeling behind it can be altered.
Photos are tools whose power depend on how you present them.
People view gruesome images to not only feel sympathy but to also satiate this desire to see misery. It is a feeling as natural as hunger and yet we all do it. Everyone looks at images of horror because they can do it from a safe place and be indifferent to the violence through the pane that is sympathy.
Gruesome and violent images fulfill the desire that one who is safe from violence can sympathize without being a part of the solution or the problem.
Photos act as reminders that “that is what people can do to each other”. It is not wrong or unethical to turn away from a photo that illicit negative emotions. It is also not unethical to continue staring at an atrocious photo because looking at a photo is synonymous with sight.
Photos remind us of what humanity can do, whether one decides to look or not.