We have all seen our fair share of photos of impoverished children with pitiful looks on their face. While there is a place to raise
awareness by capturing the pain and suffering, it’s also extremely important to remember the people on the other side of the camera are humans of equal value. Victims of
painful circumstances longing to heal desire to be viewed as full, not empty, people, with so much uniqueness
to impart to the world.
They need their full stories told not just the painful circumstances but also their fighting human spirit. When their bubbling laugh or the way they walk to the next village hand in hand with their neighbor is captured, it raises awareness to their dignity. It helps viewers to peel off our ever-present first-world lenses and truly grasp human equality in a way that is a powerful motivator, setting the focus on our commonalities.
I believe strongly that the starting point must be the understanding that I do not have the right to assume automatic access to their lives and stories. The permission is theirs to give. It's empowering, and in the end more effective, when I ask them join me in the process of telling their stories. When this done, the power and dignity goes back into their hands- where it always belonged.
It's so hard not come into social justice situations with preconceived notions. But if we do this we will miss the true story. I believe that it's crucial for me to walk into these situations using my ears, my eyes, and my camera to learn. As I learn, than the viewers of my images can also learn.
“I want people to see the culture and people and the good things. But I want them to also see the bad. We can’t ignore it. Pretending that it’s not happening just makes it worse. So I want people to see both sides.”
-quote from an Ethiopian man when asked what people needed to know
I'd love nothing more than getting the chance to connect face-to-face. So if we are able, let's get together for coffee & a chat about social justice. if we are too far apart, let's let the interwebs connect us.
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