Things are getting crazier by the minute in the world. While it’s scary, it’s also exciting. It’s a time for change. We’re making history right now and we’re all a part of it wether we like it or not. This last year I’ve thought a lot about my place in all of it. I’ve never been one to take action or speak up when it comes to politics. I’ve always been more of an observer (hence the camera). Watching the way our world is changing now, I am reminded of other revolutionary times, the strength of the people then and the way they are remembered now. Of course my thoughts immediately turn to the art and especially the photography during those times.
Robert Frank travelled across America photographing the country for what it was, full of people trying to live their lives the best they could. Sean O’Hagan said his work "changed the nature of photography, what it could say and how it could say it.” Margaret Bourke-White’s most famous image showed a line full of black flood victims in front of an advertisement showing a car full of white people that read “World’s highest standard of living. There’s no way like the American way.” The irony was not lost. She was also the first female war correspondent and famously captured horrifying images of concentration camps. Dorothea Lange photographed the great depression, people living in poverty, the unemployed and the homeless. Famous for her image of the migrant mother and her children, she captured the lost hope felt by her subjects. Because of her images, the government rushed aid to those camps. Going even further back, Matthew Brady was the first to ever photograph war. His scenes of the Civil War brought the reality of it to the people at home. Edward S. Curtis spent his career documenting the Native Americans in the early 1900’s. He also recorded the music, tribal lore and history. His work is one of the few if not only records we have of their people from that time.
Time and time again photographers have helped change and shape the world. They’ve captured the way people live and shared it with people who otherwise would never know. They brought awareness. They showed the truth and recorded history. The world and our knowledge of it would not be what it is if it were not for photographers. While incredibility intimidating, I also find this very inspiring. Honesty has always been my first priority in my work. The nature of this work has drastically changed during my lifetime but it is still important. In this political climate I am making it my personal goal to show the truth in my work, to push myself harder to find the things that are important to myself and others and document them. I’m putting out a call to other photographers and artists to do the same. Challenge yourself. Get out there and use your art as a platform. It is the honor and the duty of an artist to do so.