Photography is evidence of the relationship between the photographer and the images in front – either one of cliches or connections. If the photographer has a connection, the essence of the photographer will show through to the image.
Nicholas Lainez, an anthropologist and photographer, explored South East Asia exploring the world of human trafficking first through the cliche and then ultimately realizing the economic truth of human trafficking. As his view became more educated, his photographs left the brothels to the farms. He eventually found that families facing economic hardships were all to pleased to believe that by letting a child go freely or for exchange of money that their child would most certainly have a better future than their modest life. The eternal philosophical question is present, does money solve all problems in life. Can one have a rich life in a modest setting?
This morning, the New York Times ran a story reflecting on an image of a young girl in the Bronx and the hard realities of life in the a barren, broken down city scape of the Bronx. What the photo didn’t capture was the warmth and love of a family.
In my own documentary photographs, having learned an important lesson from Nicholas Lainez, I am all too conscious of capturing a stereotype and more interested in revealing something unique or unexpected in a particular part of the world.
One of my favorite images is the children in a remote area of Tibet, who most likely had never seen blonde hair and a camera. The children were with their mother, who was building a house with other women, one stone at a time. This image popped out on my contact sheet. The young girl embraced the notion of a stranger (me) with a smile and her little brother was more skeptical. What I love about this photograph is the hands of the mother reaching out to the children. There is a full circle of skepticism, warmth and a smile.
Just as one should always consider the source for any news item, consider the source of any photograph. What story is the photographer trying to tell? Is this story the full story or is there more to tell?
By Keri Douglas, writer/photographer, Washington, D.C.