My time last week with friends and colleagues at FOTOFusion reminded me again of an important truth about the value of photojournalism, particularly at this time in our nation’s history. When we observe closely and seek to tell the stories of those we are observing, we are validating their lives, and experiences and we are getting the privilege of translating those observations into images that confer knowledge and wisdom to those outside their circle. We can shed light that illuminates and dispels darkness. We can speak truth to power and we can help others to see the world differently. Our images can be bridges of connection that transport those encountering them beyond their own life boundaries. In doing so, the images can sow seeds of empathy and understanding that better our world and allow us to live in greater harmony with other people and all other living creatures on this planet.
It is absolutely crucial that we work now to see and document with maximum empathy and clarity, so our images can be documents that refute deliberately induced chaos and misinformation. Being transparent about our intentionality and being sophisticated and authentic in how we are seeing are also important to the process. It is vital the audience examining our images understands that we are striving to bear witness to produce images of maximum fidelity, aesthetic power, and authenticity. Nothing less will do.
Remember too that our founding fathers created the First Amendment for a reason. We are not an “opposition party.” Those of us devoting our professional lives to visual journalism are doing so to benefit and connect our fellow humans and give them confirmatory proof of what is happening in the world and why it matters. Do all you can, with the resources at hand, in the place where you are to create in a fearless fashion. Do not assume others will see and share the fruits of their observations in your place, and that others’ images will matter more than your own in addressing the world as it is in the early 21st century. To those who have been the gift of vision, please use it now to benefit the world.
Executive Director, ASMP