One thing which profoundly affected my view on photography, and was the reason i refused to take a single photo for at least 2 or 3 years, was an article i read about a hill-tribe in Laos a number of years ago. They are called the Hmong people and are pictured above. They fought on the side of America in the Vietnam war and consequently ended up fighting against their own government. When the war was over they had to go in to hiding in the jungles because their own government started hunting them. At the time they expected America to help them, but America didn't; they were left in poor, basic conditions, always on the run.
I remember around that time i watched a film too, in which there was a tidal wave which was sweeping over the earth. As the wave approached, there were people filming and trying to take photos, whilst people next to them were drowning. Although it was just a film, i felt like shouting 'You idiots, just help save the people, stop filming it.'I know things aren't black and white. I know photos can be used powerfully to inform and show people things they'd have never of otherwise seen. Ironically, i even know that if the photos of the Hmong tribe had never been taken, i would never have seen the expressions on their faces and never realised how deeply they wanted to be helped... ironically it is the photos themselves that made me feel upset and made me care for this tribe i've never met. However, despite the 'emotional affect' such photos can have on people, still how much does this really stem into good? How many thousands of photos have i seen and yet how little have i done in response to them? Do they really have any power?
I know that photos and art can be used for good. I would be ignorant to suggest otherwise. In what i've written i'm really not judging any artists or photographers, this is simply something i've been considering on a personal level. Who am i to know what is right for someone else?The thing is, most things can be used positively and negatively.... a knife can be used to kill, or it can be used by a surgeon in an operation to heal..... I suppose what matters is the heart of the person doing it and their reasons.... and also getting the right balance between 'recording' things and actually helping.
I still feel none the wiser though. And still feel that, for me, taking photos right now is probably a waste of time. If i take photos of strangers i meet, but do nothing to help love them or serve them, then i am no different to the journalists who photographed the Hmong tribe. I don't want to be like that. I feel pretty much the same about writing too... even this post is stressing me out, i'm just rambling....