Day 98 of 100, Nordjylland, Danmark
If the vast majority of work that is being done is overwhelmingly male, western and of a privileged class, how does that affect our ability to tell stories? Well, I think it does a few things; at the very least it creates a vocabulary of image making that is more restricted. We see what is considered a ‘successful’ photograph or series and that becomes what we emulate and thus the diversity of image creation is stagnated, as well as defined by a white, male western eye. But this isn’t the big issue at hand; the reason the colonialism of photojournalism needs to be combated is because, at it’s very worst, it erodes the foundational ethics and values of photojournalism itself. When the only legitimate voice is a western voice the humanity of people we take photos of is subjugated. Indeed, we take the photograph, giving nothing in return, and de-legitimizing the voices of the very people we are claiming to “[bear] witness to.” – Clary Estes, The Colonialism of Photojournalism
That was an excerpt from a provoking read: The Colonialism of Photojournalism by Clary Estes. She links to and quotes from Tara Pixley’s Why We Need More Visual Journalists and Editors of Color, a thoughtful and most excellent article about bias, and the need for lots of journalists and editors from outside the typical straight, white, male background to contribute to a broader world view, and better representations of the vast range of human life. An excerpt from Tara’s article:
The dual powers that photojournalists and photo editors have as eyewitnesses and curators of knowledge cannot be overstated. We shape the world in our own image: our individual understandings of truth and reality, our personal experiences and backgrounds do play into the scenes we choose to capture, how we frame them and whether we find them deserving of public dissemination. There is so much more to the photographs we take, select, and publish than aesthetics and the reality of any individual moment. Rather, each frame captured is a single millisecond in a sociocultural, historical reality that predates subject, photographer, and viewer. – Tara Pixley, Why We Need More Visual Journalists and Editors of Color
It’s hard not to think about such things when keeping updated on the news, especially on days like today. It’s the fuel we rely on to form our opinions about the world, our neighbours, who to vote for, and what to think about it all.