A Change of Mind (and Heart)...
Back in September, we blogged about an absolutely spectacular photo that we received from a reader that we had considered posting in our Contributor's Gallery. If you recall, the picture depicted a young boy from a remote mountainous area of Chile. The boy was dressed in traditional clothing, the llama wool hat and sweater were interesting and said a lot about where and how he lived. But what stole the show was the boy's expression; one of wonder and honesty. The photographic technique was flawless; exposure, focus and composition were on a professional level. The image was National Geographic cover material caliber.
We were initially excited about hosting this incredible image on our site. And then our Submissions Review Team began talking about the ethics of publishing this boy's picture. In the end, we decided against publishing it because, although it was taken in a public place and we could legally do so with editorial content, it just didn't seem right. We felt that children have a special right to privacy - one that at least their parent should have some say about.
Well, wouldn't you know it...the issue came up again very recently. But this time, the photographer sending us of his work turns out to be a professional documentary photographer, but with a twist. His name is Soham Gupta and he is deeply committed to using his work to advance the lives of the people he encounters in his work - in short, he is a humanitarian. Gupta works in and around Calcutta, India, and uses his photography as a means to bring attention to the human rights abuses, exploitation and suffering that are so much a part of so many peoples' lives.
Our Submissions Review Team was stunned. The depth of expression in Gupta's pictures is arresting. The authenticity unquestionably honest. The composition of the photos in his portfolio is highly insightful; he sees the symbolism in aspects of his locations and content, and uses it to make a strong point. His pictures reveal that India's booming economy is not a boom for everyone there and that a big slice of the population remains in abject poverty.
We had a change of mind. From an ethical perspective, we embraced the opportunity to publish Gupta's photos because the situation is so different from the one involving the Chilean boy. Gupta has a story to tell and his story is one that absolutely needs to be told, and to be told again and again. Yes, we are thrilled to host the works of such a highly talented photographer - there is no question about that; any serious photography site or publication would welcome the opportunity. But the fact that his work is a means to an even greater end is what drove us in our easy and heart-felt decision to feature Gupta and his compelling pictures.
As a photographer, Gupta is well on his way to making his mark. He has already been published in the Yale Journal of International Affairs, several other humanitarian publications and will soon participate in a major exhibition in London, UK. But after talking with him a lot over the past month, we know that he'll only feel true satisfaction in his work when it helps bring about change for the very subjects of his photography.
If you've gotten this far in reading this blog post, then you'll obviously want to see the exhibit.
Perspective on Photography is FreePhotoCourse.com's official Blog. This is where you can find updates, stories, news, links to photo "finds" and more from FreePhotoCourse's contributing photographers and writers.