Every time you pick up your camera, you have the potential to perform a revolutionary act.
Photography should be a kick in the establishment, a cure for the commonplace, a powerful explosion of new ideas.
Photography should be an act of defiance against banality and conformity. It should be as violent to the mind as a thousand thunderstorms. It should rip apart the accepted social fabric. It should be a declaration of war on everything we take for granted and accept as obvious.
It should point, accuse, denounce — and solve. All in one frame.
A Window Blasted Open
Photography should incessantly question reality with the passion of a martyr. It should make our leaders fear it, our priests condemn it. It should know no frontiers, no borders, and no cultural identity. It should have the same impact east of Bangkok and south of Lima.
Photography should be lifted high and proud by those who wish to change the world. It should be a constant complaint — and a constant demand for reform and social progress.
It should beg for perfection, over and over, pointing out every little detail of injustice, abuse, destruction and greed. It should rattle every misconception and drive every glib rationalization into pathetic silence.
Photography should haunt you in your sleep, follow you all day and make you feel naked.
Photography should not be a cozy, familiar blanket that keeps you warm on a cold winter night. Photography, instead, should be the act of removing the blanket suddenly — exposing you to the freezing winds.
It should be a window blasted open.
Chairs of Indifference
Too much of what we see today in photography is a sea of banality, repetition and dullness. It is status quo and no more. A long, straight road of boring, predigested concepts.
Like frozen dinners on an assembly line, today’s images wait to be reheated. Millions and millions of photographs form a constant stream that passes by at a low buzz, so that we hardly even notice anymore.
We can blame the commercial stock photography industry, I suppose, for making us forget what powerful tools our cameras can be. Slowly, the reign of the medium has taken over.
“Medium,” as in medium quality, medium content, medium effect. Photography has become an industry of expectedness, where passion and spontaneity are replaced by technocrats shooting bullet points.
So blame the industry. But let’s save at least a little blame for photographers, too.
It’s time to make images that shove people out of their chairs of indifference again. It’s time to make people rethink everything they ever took for granted. It’s time to create photographs that make those who view them want to change their whole lives.
Am I asking too much of you?
Then exactly how much less should I expect?