I guess I should warn you in advance that this is going to be a pretty personal post (to me), and I hope that none of you will feel uncomfortable after reading this.
My third and final year in school has just begun, and it’s been pretty uneventful. Until earlier tonight, that is. I had my first lesson in Photojournalism, and we watched a 90-minute long documentary on James Nachtwey, a War Photographer. What we saw today, through the lens of others, made me reconsider a lot about my life, as well as my ambitions.
This left a really strong impression.
I think that this quote from Neil Gaiman’s American Gods will sum up how I feel towards the situation rather aptly:
Without individuals we see only numbers: a thousand dead, a hundred thousand dead, “casualties may rise to a million.”
With individual stories, the statistics become people — but even that is a lie, for the people continue to suffer in numbers that themselves are numbing and meaningless.
Look, see the child’s swollen, swollen belly, and the flies that crawl at the corners of his eyes, his skeletal limbs: will it make it easier for you to know his name, his age, his dreams, his fears? To see him from the inside?
And if it does, are we not doing a disservice to his sister, who lies in the searing dust beside him, a distorted, distended caricature of a human child?
And there, if we feel for them, are they now more important to us than a thousand other children touched by the same famine, a thousand other young lives who will soon be food for the flies’ own myriad squirming children?
We draw our lines around these moments of pain, and remain upon our islands, and they cannot hurt us. They are covered with a smooth, safe, nacreous layer to let them slip, pearllike, from our souls without real pain.
This evening, I reconsidered my shallow ambitions for the first time.
There are few things that I’ve ever had real interest in: Fashion, Design, Cosplay, even Idols (pop or otherwise)- and they all share certain similar traits.
- There’s rarely any raw emotion portrayed or captured.
- Everything that the public is allowed to see is painstakingly planned and manufactured.
Just yesterday, I was joking about how I didn’t really care about who or what I photographed, as long as I was surrounded by beautiful people. (i.e Post-surgery Korean celebrities)
To cut my very jumbled-up mishmash of thoughts short, It’s not that I just found out that people all over the world were suffering, but for the longest time, I chose to stay indifferent. I had a very, very clear line around those moments of pain.
And although I’m feeling inspired and in awe, no, I did not decide that I would like to become a War Photographer, or in fact, capture disaster/pain on any medium.
However, I’ve decided that I’m going to make an effort to change what I can.
And yes, maybe the money will come from shooting pretty manufactured idols.
On a happier note, a new interview will be posted up tomorrow!
Have a good night.