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a300: Re: a274: Travel Warnings Dorce to Fonda (fwd)

From: LAKAT47@aol.com

In a message dated 01/08/2002 7:19:08 AM Pacific Standard Time, Dave Fonda

<< While I would agree that your statement is accurate in its appraisal of
the motives of many of the people who bring cameras into these areas, it is
an over-simplification that does an injustice to others, as generalizations
always do.

 Just as there are compassionate people whose skills lie in the medical
field, or in economic development, or in mission work, so, too, are there
photographers with compassion.  The desire to help ones fellow man/woman is
not limited by ones chosen profession;  nor is the capacity for respect for
I was not speaking to the intent of the photographer......I was speaking to
the reaction of the subject of the photograph.  When someone gets hostile
because their picture is being taken....or their homes are being
photographed, it is not for nothing.  I was explaining how it must feel to
them, and I was empathizing with them.  Don't you think they must feel shamed
when people who do not live in these conditions come to look at them and then
want to take photos of how they live?
<<Do you Really feel that there is No good reason to take Œthese¹ photos?>>
There may be a few good reasons.  One good reason might be if a journalist
was doing a piece on how US meddling keeps these people in squalor.  However,
you and I know, this is rare, if it happens at all.  As for photographing
poverty to alert people (Americans?) of the terrible conditions in Haiti so
that they might be moved to help......do you really think the world hasn't
seen the "starving black child with flies in his eyes" photo?  Over and over
again.......the world is numb to the images of black poverty.  And anyway,
donating money and food is a band aid.  I'm not in favor of that as a way of
<<Do you feel that these peoples stories do not deserve to be told?>>
Hell yes I feel these peoples stories deserve to be told!  But the story I
most often read associated with those photos is the one about Aristide the
evil dictator who is trampling on the people's democracy.  I would rather
read the truth......but I despair of seeing that written in mainstream
newspapers.  I am just not seeing it.
<<How did you yourself first come to know of the problems you now work to
solve?  No one just becomes aware.>>
It certainly wasn't from photographs.  In fact, let me tell you a story about
one of my trips to Haiti.  I had been going there for a few years after
seeing Port-au-Prince briefly on a cruise, where I happened to make friends
with a couple of Haitian crew members.  I was so impressed with how
gentlemanly they were, especially compared to the Norwegian
officers......geez!  At home, in between trips, I met a very nice man who was
a retired minister from a Seventh Day Adventist church.  He was fascinated
with the stories I told him about this wonderful country that had such a poor
reputation.  He knew I was about to go back so he asked me if I would take
pictures of women bathing in the water running through the city.  And of
women with all those baskets on their heads.  Well, this disturbed me very
much.  I finally told him I would be unable to take these pictures for him.
First of all, was he or was he not a dirty old man wanting a photo of naked
women bathing???  Second, it was so condescending the way he thought of these
people.  There was no way I could take a picture of people without their
sincere approval.  I have taken pictures of people in Haiti, but it was with
a Polaroid and I gave them their own photos.
<< but Nick Ut¹s image of a naked, screaming child told enough to those
horrors to help bring an end to the Viet Nam war; >>
This makes my point.  That photo was outstanding and vivid (I can still see
it in my mind's eye) because it made us have to accept the horror of what WE
WERE DOING to innocent people in Vietnam.  That was a valuable lesson.....and
you notice that journalists are not welcome in war zones anymore.....it
messes with the military spin.  As I said, if those photos were used to
inform the American people of what WE ARE DOING in Haiti....I am so for it.
<<to deride all photographers for the actions of the ignorant is equally
ignorant.  >...< There are Professional photographers as well;  people who
feel a moral compulsion to use their own God-given gifts to make the most
change that they can in this world.
There is change and there is change.  I haven't seen much courage and moral
compulsion in journalism lately.  But I do believe you that there are good
and honorable people in documentary photography (or even photojournalism), as
in all professions, who want to made a difference in this world.  I hope I
have clarified my perspective for you, which again was that of the destitute
person angry to be the subject of someone's photograph.  And I do believe you
that you are respectful when approaching your subjects.  You probably
encounter less hostility with that attitude than the person in the original
<<To sum up, yes, we do get it, at least the true professionals among us.
And I would ask you to please not thoughtlessly tar all of us for the sake of
chiding some.>>
Touche.  I admit it is a failing of mine to make my point quickly.  It's a
lazy way of making an argument, and Corbett has tried to rehabilitate me, to
no avail.  Sorry you got hurt in the flash flood...;)  (isn't that lavalas?)

Kathy Dorce~