PHOTOGRAPHS WON’T CHANGE THE WORLD?
September 4, 2015
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This week we have seen that photography is a vital tool in changing peoples’ awareness and attitudes. Still images hold our attention in the way that video does not. The crisis brought about by Europe’s failure to do the humane thing, let me rephrase that, our governments’ failures to do the right and humane thing has not been resolved by a picture, but ordinary people have been changed and have spoken out and now the governments of Europe are paying attention. A sage man, Bruce Elder, commented “There is a dark ugliness in the soul of our politicians but, hopefully, there is a certain goodness and decency in the average citizens which will triumph over political cynicism. ”
This article on disphotic by Lewis Bush carries this idea that a photograph cannot change the world but that people can:
The power of images to change the world is often claimed, less often proven. Great achievements have been piled around the totem of photography, from the early pangs of environmental awareness to the final course and conclusions of armed conflicts. And yet photographs are just bits of paper, or today more likely abstract lines of code. These things can’t change the world, but they can change people, and people can change the world.
Photographs are not, as we once believed, a sort of window on the world. But in however an incomplete and fragmented a way they do expose us to the idea of other places, people and things. This is not about some false equivalence between seeing and experiencing. This is not to say that seeing a photograph of a drowned child on a beach is the same as standing on that beach over that small body. But it is about knowing that somewhere a child drowned, and that his death is the consequence of other things which might be more within our power to change. Photographs present the idea that things are happening, or exist, or are possible.
You can read the rest of the article here
You may well feel that there is little you can do as an individual in the face of the overwhelming awfulness that is present on the fringes of Europe but that is not true. This article in The Independent might contain something you could do even if it is only clicking your mouse to tell our politicians how you think.