Pictures are probably the most powerful medium for expression of life and at the same time, probably the most misused one too. I think that’s because a shutter is awfully easy to press and a virtual image is awfully easy to process for a human mind as compared to words in a book.
Have you ever noticed people with huge black cameras roaming about here and there in some dingy slum area as they click pictures that scream poverty and sheer helplessness? Or have you seen pictures and videos that talk about the plight of poor in the worst possible manner? I remember watching documentaries about the backwardness of India and wondering why they don’t ever talk about the other side of the coin as well.
It was perhaps not too naïve of me to think that it is somehow gratifying for the less depraved people to talk about depravity in extreme. I have only come to despise the “stark reality portrayal” of the world even more. I believe a photographer whether a journalist or an artist, cannot indulge in a bigger hypocrisy than the seemingly hard-hitting expression of reality. It is probably the best example of a morally sanctimonious society that we live in. We love to poke at anyone who is beneath us in some way or the other be it the crying, semi naked children who are not being attended to by their parents since they are busy working as daily wage labourers or be it people fighting with the biting cold weather since they can’t afford to live in a proper house and the shelters made by government have somehow been taken away from those in need.
I’m not denying these people their plight but I don’t believe they should be denied their honour and dignity either.
Why, we don’t talk about children from rich families who become their parent’s worst nightmares because they didn’t have time to raise their children as well?
We don’t talk about supermodels although engulfed in a world of glamour but still forced to live in loneliness and the ugliness when the shutterbugs go away?
Is it because at the end of the day life essentially boils down to one thing- Money?
That’s the only difference between the two worlds as far as I can see. It isn’t love, it isn’t empathy and it isn’t helplessness. It is just about money. You should be happy if you have money, otherwise no matter what you will be subjected to the endless pity. And this is a belief, I believe, that has largely been perpetrated by photographers. Admittedly it is easier to see what is wrong with a situation, it takes a lot more perseverance and enthusiasm for life to see what is good or unique about a situation. However, as well all know well enough while money is important but it is not the most important thing in life. And that is what a photographer should strive to project. Hope and beauty never killed anyone; depression and cynicism have been known to. It might just be an illusion like the one Robert Benigni’s character creates for his son in the movie Life Is Beautiful however tragic it might seem to one when the reality is stripped down to its bare truth but nobody can deny that the child was better of believing his Jewish family’s internment at a Nazi concentration camp to be a “game” instead.