I didn’t know Tilgate Park in Crawley existed until Amy and Jemma suggested it as the location for their pre-wedding shoot. Full of families on holiday, at first it didn’t seem ideal, but the varied locations and the reasonable weather made it the perfect choice for climbing trees, hiding behind statues and enjoying the spring flowers …. here are the results.
I’ve just been introduced to the work of Kay Chernush ….. “ a leading US photographer with more than 25 years’ experience in commercial and fine art image-making. Her work has been commissioned by organisations such as ‘Free the Slaves’ and the ‘International Cocoa Initiative’, and has also appeared in over 50 feature stories with the Smithsonian magazine. Her fine art work is included in the permanent collections of the World Bank and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.” (text from www.emancipasia.org/artworksforfreedom).
Her work is stunning. She has created abstract artworks based on her experience of meeting, then photographing victims of human trafficking in ways that are completely collaborative. They convey powerful messages whilst avoiding overtly identifying her subjects. Please take a moment to look at the images in this slideshow of the “Bought and Sold” exhibition.
As my visit to Thailand gets closer and I wonder how I can use my photography to help the people we’ll meet, Kay’s work and the other links on www.artworksforfreedom.org is very inspiring.
I’m not one to promote Apple technology for the sake of it, but I do plan to take my iPad on all future travel photography trips. We all enjoy photographing local people on our travels – to ruminate over when we get home, to bore our friends with snaps and slideshows and even to write our blogs (!!) But how often do we consider the subjects of our shots – the people we “take” photographs of?
As I travel with my camera I appreciate more and more that the photograph must be a mutual exploration – a joy for the person being photographed as well as for the photographer. I’m not ruling out candid shots, they will always have their place in travel and documentary photography, but when you’re up close and personal – get up there … get close and personal! Engage with the people you meet – talk to them! Use signs and gestures if you have no common tongue and please, at a minimum, learn how to say hello, please and thank you …
What I learned from Kerryn on our recent trip to Tanzania is the power of sharing the pictures in situ. You can show people the back of the camera (never very satisfactory since it’s so small) but showing them some shots you take on the iPad (even shoot some for for them alone with your iPad – they won’t be as good as your SLR shots – but they’re not necessarily for you). Or if you are staying for a while, load the shots from camera to iPad and then share.
It’s a different experience for many people in less developed parts of the world. Most have access to mobiles – basic ones at best – and they may not access to have TV. An iPad and what it can do is a revelation. Kerryn videoed Doug singing and clapping with the kids in the Oltepesi boma and played it back to them .. to their absolute delight. It was replayed again and again and again … !
There was such joy for everyone in those moments. So go on … engage and share next time you travel with your camera …..
I printed 6×4 prints from my visit to Oltepesi in 2009 and set about making sure we matched as many people to their photo as we could …. or at least passed them onto a friend or family member. Three years is a long time in a small child’s life and there was much hilarity as the kids compared each others’ photos. Almost without exception the villagers were amused to see themselves in print. However one woman, whom I have to say I barely recognised from her photo, was a little distressed and without a shared language she tried to explain why.
She mimed tearing it up and pointing to her face, the covering her face with her hands … which I took it to mean that she didn’t like the image or was in some way offended. The sadder truth was that she was upset by how old and tired she looked in the photo, not through any sense of vanity; rather the reminder of the deprivation wrought by the drought of three years previously. I then noticed that almost all the women did look better this time – fuller of face, happier certainly and even a bit younger in some cases.
It’s maybe a cliche but a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, even if we don’t understand the language.