Why I photograph The good, the bad and the ugly

 

[Image above: Overwhelmed mother, her son turning uncontrollable because of seizures]

You know, if someone asked me what kind of photography I do, I would say it's simply “Life photography”. I take it as it is and as it moves, so does my camera. Some folks said that my images are mostly about poverty and it's ugly, they want to photograph pretty things, I shot right back and said it's about reality, poverty just happened to be part of it.

toy camera-1

[My son the photographer]

 

Reality doesn't give 2 cents about what is pretty, what is beautiful and what is ugly. I try not to discriminate with my lens, I try shoot reality, the whole range of it. I've been to and shot destitute places, it would make your heart sink, but I also went to places where the guy has a 1:1 replica of Michaelangelo's Pieta right in their house's entrance. I went to, and photographed a dump where kids were working for pennies, but I also photographed my kid receiving one too many toys from his large family.

 

nica-2

 

[Dump where kids salvage stuff]

 

What can I tell you? The world is full of contrasts that I can't process in my mind, so I photograph. I can't understand why my kids are fine while others work in fuming dumps, why there is so much happiness and so much suffering. I can process it mentally but emotionally I can't, so I photograph.

 

jacmel-house-2

 

[Happy Russian woman living with her soon-to-be-husband, “We are living our dream” he told me “She always wanted to live by the beach, I always wanted art around my house”]

 

I photograph because it makes me alive, but also because I don't understand. A woman was showing us a framed image of her long gone son, she was in tears. I didn't know what to do but make an image. My friend was in total ecstasy when he was getting married, I didn't know what to do but to make an image.

 

nica-4

[Policemen setting up a Piñata for kids]

 

I don't make the mistake of overblowing suffering as some sort of “Revelation of reality” and happiness as some sort of “mere sentiment” as C.S Lewis said in “Screwtape Letters”. There's both in the world, and they are both equally real, hence I want to photograph both.

 

jacmel-3

 

[Grew up with this guy, they are really happy]

 

The act of photography does two things: It allows you to offload something you felt off your chest, but it also tells the people in front of the camera that you acknowledge them and their situation, wether it is good, bad or ugly. Isn't it the highest form of relationship to say that you understand? Be yourself, stay focused and keep on shooting.

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5 thoughts on “Why I photograph The good, the bad and the ugly”

  1. Beautiful words, Olivier, they really resonate with me, and I completely agree. It’s an act of honesty and sincerity and none knows you better than yourself. Your pictures are also powerful and moving. Great post!

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