Most of the photography I share here is happy photography. Because people like happy photography, I like happy photography, with colours and design and panning. Of football and food and fashion. It’s easy to digest and quick to click through. Thing is though, there’s more to photography than just that. Sara Naomi Lewkowicz‘s photography is more than that. One of the things that was stressed over and over in my PhotoJ program is that, the true practice of photojournalism follows stories, all stories. From all the pretty and happy to the nitty gritty and heart strings tugging. Lewkowicz follows stories that are more of the latter nature. (TRIGGER WARNING: domestic violence after the jump.)
I have a waft of a memory from a class where we discussed either this story of Shane and Maggie or else something similar to it, where a photographer was following a family and violence broke out in the home. As someone who’s documenting something, you’re there to be an observer. Never to interfere or get in the way or change the way things are going. The idea is that you’re a fly on the wall, in human form, with a camera. Then where, we discussed, does the line appear? Or is there a line? Do you completely shut off and let things happen in front of you and continue to take photos (especially when children are involved) or, at some point, do you get involved? And, if so, at what point is that? And how do you get involved? Your safety also has to be taken into consideration. Lewkowicz phoned the police once things got heated, which I think most readers would see as being the proper course of action. The thing is, if you’re not a photojournalist, the idea that you wouldn’t immediately stop and interfere is downright appalling. And, that once help has arrived, that you would keep taking photos as these people are in some of their most vulnerable states is also something most people can’t understand. Trust me, we know. We discussed this for ages and all of us came up with different answers. In the end, it ends up being up to the photographer, deciding where the line is.
I don’t know where my line is, personally. But I do know that it has to take a lot of courage to not do something, just as much as it would to do something. To continue to do what your job is, to document, to ignore your human instincts and play the part of the fly. In her various projects, Lewkowicz does that, watching her subjects as they go through their various good and bad moments, from family dinners out to fights in the kitchen and drug abuse in bathroom stalls. It takes guts to do that.
Things I’m Loving:
+ Summer salads – (Because summer + salads = magic.)
+ Whipped Grapefruit Body Scrub – (To pamper yourself with.)
+ These notecards – (For those special people in your life.)
+ Summer sangria – (Because why not?)