I’ve been on a bit of an introspective journey today, but more about that at a later date. Nothing like a bit of perspective though, which I found on reading this article http://gu.com/p/3vvc3 entitled ‘The Shot That Nearly Killed Me: War Photographers, a special report.’ published in the Guardian, June 18th, 2011. I don’t have anything terribly coherent to say, it’s just mind-blowing stuff. So powerful, invoking such emotion in me, and reminding me why I love photography. Illustrating again for me the best and worst of humanity.
These are things I know about myself; I love words, and I love photographs. I use both as a filter, as a crutch, a comfort and a challenge. Without a doubt they are the two ways in which I interact with the rest of the world the most. Looking at these pictures reminded me of attending a protest at Parliament House, in Canberra. It was August 1996, and I was studying Welfare/Social Science at Technical College. I’d taken Daughter Number One with me, she was 7 and a half at the time, I wanted her to see and appreciate the freedoms we have in Australia – to stand up for what you believe in. I don’t even recall WHAT we were protesting now. What I do recall, vividly, is that as I watched the crowd a peaceful protest turned into what was reported later as a riot. The media coverage from that day was light-years away from what I witnessed first hand. My first priority was to make sure Daughter Number One was safe, but after leaving her with my friends, well clear of the melee, I turned and ran straight into the thick of it, camera at the ready. Oh for a better camera! I just didn’t have one up to the job, and my photo’s from that day don’t come close to capturing what I would have liked them to. I got as close to the action as I dared, resulting in a fist to the side of the head, and took my shots as the mass of people literally crashed into Parliament House.
In the same album I have shots from protesting Pauline Hanson speaking at a local theatre – kids at home in bed that time – and from an International Women’s Day march. This trip down memory lane has been so vivid; I can feel the adrenaline I felt then. It reminds me there are things worth fighting for. Things that I believe, about myself and about the world. It also reminded me, oddly, of a conversation I had with a friend recently. I was relating taking Daughter Number Two for her 4y.o. immunisations. Baby Daddy elected to manfully wait outside until it was all done. My friend expressed the opinion that the majority of Dads would do the same. My response was that I didn’t care what the majority of fathers would do in that situation; if Daughter Number Two could suck it up and have the injection, the least Baby Daddy could do is bear witness.
As I read the War Photographer article my own words ricocheted around my head; ‘The least you can do is bear witness.’
The least I can do is bear witness.
I’m going somewhere with this, boys and girls; I’ll keep you posted.