that guatemala trip was about as close as i’ve come to anything like documentary photography.
you may remember that i said i was pretty much done with instagram. i resolved to get it sorted and terminate my account. i ditched my calyxos android phone and moved back to the iphone. i installed the instagram app and logged in. instead of asking for my birthdate, as is does when using a computer web browser to access instagram’s website, it simply asked for my age. before i entered it, i went to my laptop and tried to log in via the instagram website. it still required a birthdate. back to the iphone app. i entered my age. it’s now effectively 52 for those interested. it was then that i saw that they had changed it to give you the option to only see those you actually follow in your feed. so, i left it alone for a while. i uploaded one photo. checked in occasionally. unfollowed some accounts that just didn’t do it for me any longer.
one day, i had notification of a new follower. christina simons. no idea. click the account and it’s a photographer. and not just any photographer. (i would classify myself as “any photographer”.) a real photojournalist/documentary photographer. the worldwide kind. the first thing i did was visit her website. then back to her instagram. i saw she had an instagram story for flooding in sudan on bbc’s website. she was the photographer and it was a photo essay.
i’ve always wanted to do that kind of work. or i think i do. i read/viewed her essay and did some more research on the flooding. then back to her instagram to see some additional pictures and i thought, “how do pictures help? really? attention is brought to the situation. so? then what? it drops out of the news cycle in the blink of an eye and everyone in the first/developed world goes back to drinking their starbucks. in the end what good is being a photographer. why would i even aspire to that?” that was literally my thought.
i have left a number of careers, because of “why i am even doing this anymore?” once something loses meaning for me, i’m pretty much done with it. i do know there are powerful stories out there. documentary photography/photojournalism anchors us to the world and stories beyond our own little spheres. it brings visuals to words and lets us see. it’s 1/200 of a second of the universe frozen. photons immortalized in the physical world. time stood still. the sun star in a tear. the joy in a smile. glimmer in an eye. a stare past the camera into the unknown beyond. desperation. hope. light. its absence.
the best pictures hold empathy. the fabric of human existence needs a whole lot more of that right now. and if a photograph can increase that, i believe that helps us all.
i see meaning and value in photography, so i still have aspirations.
leave a comment