WHY WE DO IT: PHOTOGRAPHERS ON THE PASSION THAT DRIVES THEIR WORK
Feb 27th 2022
A photo is never merely a photo. It is a piece of time captured for all mankind to see, open for the interpretation and judgment of everyone who gazes upon it. A skilled photographer can bring out the emotional details in a photograph - a rush of rage, a pang of guilt, or a fleeting moment of joy - thereby turning a stranger's memory into a familiar experience.
In today's reality, however, photographers face harsh changes. Too many photographers and not enough projects can cause them to question their calling. But why do some noble photojournalists choose to persevere against all odds?
The editor of TIME Lightbox interviewed some of amazing photographers out there on the purpose behind their craft. Here are a few of their most notable answers.
Kevin Schwarte, Photographer - I never really thought about why I do it…I just do it.Perhaps I do it to preserve history, to interact with humanity, to reach places that I normally would never go to, or it is to force myself to contemplate the human condition of others that we share this planet with.It makes me educate myself about traditions and customs that you only come to know when you meet and interact with the subject of your image.And after the image is taken, I really enjoy discussing the context of that image with others.
Kathy Ryan, Director of Photography, the New York Times Magazine muses about how images don’t age or warp. She calls photographers the "witnesses and artists who can distill the mayhem and beauty that surrounds us."
Ruddy Roye, Photographer, says that he shoots simply because he sees. Ruddy reflects on how his photos may enable people to redefine and reexamine those who are different from them.
Stephanie Sinclair, Photographer, believes that photojournalism has the power to “spark positive change” in a world where people act on their selfish whims, prioritizing themselves and their motives. Photography and journalism go hand in hand to deliver the truth, despite the ever-present threat of lies and deceit.
MaryAnneGolon, Director of Photography, Washington Post simply states that "photography speaks." Golon goes on to describe an experience in China, wherein she was able to deliver a photo story without uttering a single word. She communicated to her audience with the images she presented and they responded appropriately to each photo.
Aidan Sullivan, CEO and Founder, Verbatim thinks that photojournalism is a skill, but the burning, urgent need to tell a story is “built into the DNA.”
Sarah Leen, Director of Photography, National Geographic , Photography can defeat time. Images can keep the memory of a loved one alive, hold a moment in history for future generations, be a witness to tragedy or joy."
Laura Morton, Photographer stresses how important it is that photographers exist to document people’s daily comings and goings so that we can better understand our present lives. In the future, photographs will allow us to reflect on who we are and how we arrived there.
Simon Bainbridge, Editorial Director, British Journal of Photography urges everyone to welcome the world through fresh eyes. He notes that many admirable photographers work with a sense of wonder and freedom, challenging themselves to care deeply so that their ardor may be reflected in their photographs.
Alex Potter, Photographer says that photography will always be something that he can return to. It helps him to process his reality and preserve intricate details in his memory.
Jeffrey Furticella, Sports Photo Editor, the New York Times emphasizes that the photographer’s mission is not just to capture, but to “investigate, enlighten, and excite.” This mission, he says, is one of mankind’s greatest privileges.
Peter Di Campo, Photographer believes that photojournalism is key to achieving a “more diverse and inclusive media” and marvels at how today’s innovations allow photographers to reach a wider audience.
The politics behind photojournalism may have its ups and downs, but the art and skill of photography will remain essential for mankind. How else can we relive history? Or convey our message of hope to one another? How else can we hope to understand each other if not through the lens of a storyteller?