Friday, June 28, 2013

"I Saw a Light..."

I have had many times where I felt that I was losing heart over the last year or so.   I have made no secret of my sense of alarm about the actions of the Harper Government.  They are reminiscent of other sinister forces in my mind and frankly, I fear for the future of this country.

Be that as it may, I live my life mostly a day at a time and try to maintain faith in my fellow human beings.   I also have a sense that beyond all of this, there is a greater good.   Part of that is due to my upbringing I guess.  I was reminded today of a profound experience I had when I was young.  It happened in a conversation I had with my mom over coffee at the kitchen table.

When I was in my teens I discovered that my mother had already died.   She was in surgery at the time and her heart stopped beating.   She was still a young woman and found herself floating at the ceiling, looking down on herself, and the surgical team frantically working on her.   She was not afraid as she turned to find that she was being drawn to a light in the distance.   As she drew closer, she was met by an old man who was dressed in white.   "You must go back" he said.   It is not your time.   She wanted to move forward but felt herself being pulled back as he told her that she was going to have several more children.

Perhaps it was a dream, but she was adamant that it was greater than that and I believed her.

I have never forgotten that story and was reminded of it again when I read this posting on the "Daily Good" Blog.   The Night I Died

I recommend this blog to you and offer you this link.   I also encourage you to read Gandhi's Ten Rules for Changing the World.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Suicide of the Fourth Estate - Death by Dismemberment

It's surprising to me that in this age of digital imaging where we are creating more images every year than we have since the beginning of time, that we are becoming less and less visually aware than ever before.  The idea that a reporter with an iPhone can create meaningful and eloquent images that encapsulate a moment is beyond belief.  It seems to me that what is happening here is a movement by some powerful individuals to destroy the foundations of the fourth estate by eliminating journalism's visual practitioners.

Iconic images are rare.  Photographers spend their lives in search of them.  When they find those events and are able to record an image that speaks to the truth, the picture takes on a life of its own and lives in our memories for decades.  These photographs are a call to action.  A picture of a little girl running down a road after being burned by napalm speaks about the horrors of war. (Nick Ut)   A man being executed in the street, his head being ripped open by the bullet fired by his executioner. (Eddie Adams) These pictures live in our memories longer than the myriad of articles written about war's atrocities.

Vincent Laforet's blog posting is a must read for us all and I link to it here for your consideration.

We deserve the truth, photojournalists dedicate their very lives in search of it.  Crowdsourcing is an important extension of this medium but it is not a replacement for it.   Photographers are an important, indeed vital arm of our information.   Removing them from the business is imposing a form of blindness on the world.

Great photographers like James Nachtwey and W. Eugene Smith took years to learn the craft before becoming the greatest of their time.   Nachtwey worked at the Abuquerque Journal in 1976.  Smith went to Minimata on assignment with Life Magazine but could not leave until the whole story had been documented (and he had been severely beaten by thugs) two years later.

Closing these departments will restrict the young photographers of our time from establishing themselves and attaining the competence to become great.  It is a sad comment that we value this work so poorly that we are willing to hide our collective heads in the sand so that we don't have to be influenced by the work of these brave men and women.