This is the season of hope and love for humanity. We renew our faith and take stock of our families and the love we share. The memories of this season are captured in our photographs for future generations to admire and reflect upon. It’s a time of sharing family history and of retelling the stories and traditions past. Yes, Photography plays a role in this sharing of memories and traditions, but there is much more to it than that.
A Common Bond
One of the best things about photography is that no matter who you are, no matter where you live, no matter what else you do in life, you can take good pictures and enjoy photography. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, male or female, rich or poor. It doesn’t matter if you are Liberal or Conservative, what your ethnic origin is, or who you voted for in this year’s tumultuous election.
Photography can create a common bond among people whom you ordinarily would not find associating with each other. I recently joined a Facebook photography group and found it had thousands of members from all over the world. I see Black, White, Jew and Arab, all posting pictures and talking about what they’ve learned and giving advice to others. Their only goal is learning how to make their pictures better. During this past election where you could not find any reprieve form the political mayhem dished out from both sides, I saw remarkably little political talk in this forum. It was refreshing. The common bond among everyone was their love of photography and their desire to learn from each other.
We humans, I think, are hard-wired to divide ourselves into groups: Black or White; Rich or Poor; Liberal or Conservative. We then proceed to promote the group we are in and denigrate the others. Sometimes one group promotes distrust and hatred toward another to the point where real harm is carried out. It’s a sad fact of our species that has been around for as long as we have. Until we evolve to the point of not separating ourselves into these factions there will always be some level of mistrust, hatred and violence in the world.
The Great Equalizer
With Photography, it does not matter one bit who is behind the camera. It only matters how their vision and creativity is used to capture the image in front of the camera. It’s a beautiful thing.
And, yes, even photographers divide themselves into factions: Portrait photographers or Landscape photographers; Artistic photographers or photo journalists; photographers who believe there are no limits in editing their images or those who believe that anything but straight out of the camera is cheating –you get the idea. But, never have I heard of one of those photography factions committing hate crimes against the other (a spirited debate, maybe). I’ve never heard of someone’s house being spray-painted with the epitaph: “Portrait Photographers SUCK!”
Our civilization needs more tools like Photography to bring us together rather than dividing us. If we had more expression of ideas with which we could reach common ground, maybe we could stop hating and killing each other. My chosen method is photography.
I see it as much more than just snapping a moment in time: It is truly the Great Equalizer.