Friday, May 24, 2013

The Graceful Act of Photography

Beth Doherty is media director for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. the  She writes with insight and passion about the graceful act of photography:

"The power of the photograph; its content, composition, message can say much more than an article, a radio grab, or even a television show - as evidenced by the adage ‘a picture tells a thousand words.’

In 2004, I went to Cambodia for a four-month volunteer stint with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS).
The question of whether to take a camera with me weighed heavily on my heart, but five weeks in, I realised there were stories that needed telling. 
During my time, I worked as an English teacher to Montagnard refugees from the Central Highlands of Vietnam. It was a dramatic and difficult refugee situation.
Babies were born in squalid conditions in refugee camps in Phnom Penh and I was able to take the very first photos for the families; families were resettled or sent home; people faced the prospect of never seeing their loved ones again." Read full text here

One of my primary uses of social media is sharing my photography.  I cover the lives and issues of vulnerable people. 

My subjects include Indigenous people, those living with disabilities, Refugees and Asylum Seekers and Forgotten Australians. 

Beth writes of  discovering the rich relationships that happen when a photographer meets another person. Some of the people I photograph survived institutional childhoods and have few if any images of themselves as children. They now cherish the images of their lives as adults. 

My commitment to photography means that I am able to walk into many situations with vulnerable people and they know my work is about promoting their lives and issues.

The high incidence of people tagging themselves in my Facebook albums is also a form of permission and sharing of these precious images.

I hope that Beth's blogpost will provoke more discussion about the role of photography both as social conscience and 'sanctifying act'
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