“More people should be partisan. More photographers should be partisan. Should call people bastards and point the finger. I wonder (every year pretty much on this blog) why they aren’t. So many photographers profess to be progressive and get outraged about exploitation in photography and the like, yet fail to reflect that in the overwhelmingly dull work that often passes for photojournalism or documentary.
I’m not sure why that is. I guess it’s because there’s still the myth of the objective truth-telling photographer and there is the dominating voice of documentary – which is one of sobriety. But really! The sober voice is a boring voice. You should be shouting abuse and throwing things.
The other reason is photographers are scared of offending those who might potentially give them custom and help them make a living. You don’t want to offend the wealthy and powerful; they own the magazines, the companies, the galleries, the universities, the foundations, they publish your work, they buy your work, they commission your work, they show your work.
Essentially we should be fucking the rich with photography, not literally, but metaphorically. Instead, photography is, as always, serving the rich, it is giving it a right royal tongue-up-the-arse servicing. How did that happen? How does it continue to happen? Or am I missing something?”
“The tremendous development of photojournalism has contributed practically nothing to the revelation of the truth about conditions in this world. On the contrary photography, in the hands of the bourgeoisie, has become a terrible weapon against the truth. The vast amount of pictured material that is being disgorged daily by the press and that seems to have the character of truth serves in reality only to obscure the facts. The camera is just as capable of lying as the typewriter”
– Bertolt Brecht,1931
Chris Arnade. Cynthia, from the “Faces of Addiction.”
Chris Arnade. An addict named Pepsi, in Hunts Point.
Robert Capa / Magnum photos
“Lowe is not afraid to turn the flashlight on his own profession. He told me how, in his doctoral thesis submitted last year, he argues that simply “witnessing” is morally distinct from “bearing witness”; the latter, he tells me, is an “active process of testimony” going beyond saying simply, “This is what I saw”. In bearing witness, photographers move past a “passive” presentation of the situation to what Lowe calls a “more accurate process of engagement with it”. A photographer bearing witness, Lowe says, is often providing a “testimony about – and very often on behalf of – someone who can’t provide that testimony”.”