Do photographers really help?
There was an article recently published on The Lens Blog (a subsidiary of the New York Times) and it was titled Saving Lives or Photographing Them? It’s a series of particularly dark images by photographer Misha Friedman, as he documents tuberculosis patients all over the world and he wonders out loud whether he is really making a difference to the situation.
“My images have not really helped them. Maybe they’ll help people in the future. Maybe they’ll help with fund-raising here and there. But to these particular people, they did not help.
It’s a question that photojournalists have always been debating about. Some believe that in order to achieve change they should just drop everything and become activists while other argue that contributing to the global consciousness keeps the flame that is contribution and awareness alive. I think what they do as photojournalists is important. Awareness if the first step to action and spreading the word is also a form of help but it’s a long term remedy.
There is an image in the series which “shows a patient at the moment of death in a clinic in a suburb of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine. Mr. Friedman had been talking to the man 10 minutes earlier, asking for permission to return to photograph him.”
Obviously this brings about a new type of sensitivity to the image as well as a great sense of weight to the work that he has done. The black and white images available on The Lens Blog (at the link above) are softspoken and also appear to be quite haunting. The entire edit is available on his website here. It’s a great set and an even better question.
Do we actually make a difference?