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Using a camera as a megaphone…

You know how the insurance company says to take pictures of the stuff in each of the rooms of your house? Well, my brother in law did just that, he does stuff like that. You know, stuff that ‘you’re supposed to do’, but most people never actually get around to doing. That’s just how he rolls. It was a long time ago, so I can’t remember how it is that I ended up seeing something so random of his.

Anyway, the images are etched in my mind as the most boring photos I’ve ever seen. Now, to be fair to Nate, he wasn’t trying to, like, express himself in the photos, they were just cold, banal documents that said, ‘look, this is my stuff’. But they did say that, they said something, even if it was a super boring something.

Now, think of the most gripping, engaging photos you have seen. Like maybe the National Geographic Afghan woman with the eyes. You probably know exactly which photo I’m talking about even before you scroll down, right? Why is that?

It’s so beautiful, so intense and electric. It’s so full of meaning because of how the photographer expressed himself in the photo. He’s shouting out, ‘look, there are real people here, they are human, and they are scared but they’re also resilient, tough. Just like you could be, just like you might be if your were here. Look, humanity’s spark is beautiful even when surrounded by awful circumstances. Look at the life and the beauty and the defiance in her eyes’.

Or maybe you see something else, but that’s the nature of art isn’t it, perception can be malleable, mercurial, as long as it’s authentic and powerful.

It’s really important for a photographer to know how to use his camera, But it’s so much more important for him to have something to say when he looks through the viewfinder.

photo by Steve McCurry
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