Loving pictures, loving people

December 23, 2009 at 4:25 am 1 comment


Portraits are limited. They can mischaracterize someone as easily as they can accurately represent a person. And who decides what’s accurate? The subject? The photographer? Or someone else entirely?

How often has someone taken a snapshot of you that didn’t look like you at all? Or that didn’t look the way you want to look?

So why do we make pictures of each other? If you know that a portrait can never say everything that you want or need to say about a person, why make one?

I ask myself this question a lot.

My answer has to do with loving pictures. Loving them for what they can do, and not feeling frustrated with them because of what they cannot do.

Pictures, like this one by Massimo Dall’Argine on behalf of Amicus, inspire the imagination. They help me think about other people. They help me feel commonality, connection and love for others and for the world. They help me feel all sorts of things. Just like a movie, or a book, or an amusement park…I go to pictures to feel more.

This picture is by Ian MacLellan for Christian Legal Education Aid and Resarch. When I look at it, I feel as though I’m meeting this man. I feel as though I am working with him or he is working for my school or my community. I feel interested, and curious about who he is, and, personally, quite respectful.

I find that I am often moved by pictures which are not exclusively about a given challenge or tragedy, but are about the life surrounding it—the familiar, beautiful, challenging, painful life that each of us experiences.

When I look at a picture of a person who lives in a very different place from me, it is hard for me to know what that person’s experience has been. I cannot fully imagine it. And the more the picture makes me focus on that difference between me and the subject, the more I think about how much I can’t imagine.

But the more a picture focuses on what I DO have in common with the subject, the more connection I feel to them, the more I think about how much I can imagine about his or her life.

This photograph for Do One Thing by Najlah Faenny delights me. I feel like I could be friends with this girl–I’ve made faces like that. And in this example, because I don’t know where she is, I am really only looking at her face. And she doesn’t seem very different from me.

And I think social change is built on that feeling of connection. I don’t think it’s built on a feeling of distance and dissonance. When people are empowered to work together, when they have mutual respect and shared goals—that’s when institutions grow and communities get stronger.

Advertisements

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Looking at leprosy An interview with Ian MacLellan, winner of the PhotoPhilanthropy Student Activist Award

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Reseller Hosting  |  January 5, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


"In this way his work is more powerful in its moments of creation, when real human interactions are eroding racial stereotypes, than in its exhibition. And if the work succeeds, it is not because Subotzky can use a camera like no one else, it is because his photographs embody his efforts to confront social injustice on a personal level." --Charles Schultz on Mikhael Subotzky

PhotoPhilanthropy’s blog is written by Eliza Gregory

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 86 other followers

@PhotoPhilan

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Archives

December 2009
M T W T F S S
« Nov   Jan »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

%d bloggers like this: