Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.Romans 12:16, 1 John 4:11
Photo Friday samples just a few images from this week’s “previously unpublished” folder. Additionally, I want to reflect just a little on the amazing power a photograph can hold.
Yesterday, Rebekah and I watched the 2022 movie, “Minamata”. It’s a beautifully crafted story that explores one assignment in the life of legendary photojournalist Gene Smith. It turned out to be Smith’s last photoessay and it also produced one of the most impactful images of the late 20th Century.
The facet of the story that really caught my attention was the cost to the photographer. Smith talks about the belief that being photographed can steal a part of the subject’s soul. “But what gets left out of the fine print,” he says, “is that it can also take a piece of the photographer’s soul.”
In other words, an image like “Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath” is impossible to capture without the background, the story, the angst, the personal impact, the emotional investment of the person behind the camera… and – yes – a quite substantial piece of the photographer’s soul.
This is true because good storytelling recognizes the fact that, while we are all individuals with our own unique relationship to the world, we also live in community and we are part of the collective human journey. We simply cannot observe another’s pain, or joy, without some level of identification, of empathy, of shared experience.
If there is anything we can do – that we must do – in response to our current social crisis of isolation, anger, polarization, antipathy, hostility, and ill will, then it is to intentionally become closer to others rather than defensively increasing the distance.
Storytelling requires a level of intimacy that cannot exist without mutual vulnerability, honesty, trust, and the willingness to listen.
Watch Minamata. Of course the story is compressed, re-ordered, and otherwise changed in order to fit the format of motion-picture. But watch it thoughtfully, and you will never look at another photograph without thinking about and caring about the story behind it.
This is why I share my pictures with you.
Not because I am an artist, or a photojournalist; but because the stories are important, because I trust you, because I want to lessen the distance between us, and because our shared human experience is a most beautiful thing.
Peace – in every way – DEREK