Earlier today I ran across a photo article that addresses the ins and outs of photographing street people.
In the 1930s Doretha Lange b/w photography, photo-ed many of the down and out, those going through the Great Depression.
Often highlighting Church efforts with those deemed disadvantaged, we’ll see a poster punctuating a person struggling with life. Many times this is usually a hungry child with a grossly distended stomach, or on other occasions a black and white child touching hands as the good church people hand offer a fresh baked cookie.
Still at other times, we love to zoom in on the homeless. Photo instructions say NOT to ask them to smile. If you think I’m kidding about this:
So then, by now you’d probably like to know where I’m going with all of this. And what I’m actually doing here is expressing outrage over our fascination with people who are in great desperation, pain and suffering.
Who do we think we are? What the hell do we think we’re doing? Are we at a zoo and we’re examining the animals for a pet project? I have written this before: there is no such thing as a homeless person. Yes, we have PEOPLE who are homeless! Nonetheless, they are PEOPLE FIRST and homeless among an entirely different line.
People are NOT clients. People are NOT patients, or wards, or specimens, or data, or a host of any other stupid thing we dare call them.
And no, no and hell no. It isn’t cute. NO! A person suffering is not adorable for us to put in our National Geographic Magazines. I’m going to say it again: NO, NO, and Hell NO.
By any other name, agony is horrific. It is terrible. Loneliness is intolerable! The feeling of isolation and rejection is crucifying. We can label people, photograph them and make adorable pictures for us to admire: to ooh and ahh over, but by any other name, it is NOT cute. It is BAD !