The art of photography lies in the importance of answering: what is art itself? Art is an expression of souls and experiences--essentially, it is storytelling. These stories can be told through words, music, paintings, etc. However, photography provides the viewer a different experience. There is undeniable truth in photography that the creator and viewer cannot escape. Photography holds so much power in its ability to tell the truth and to tell stories that need to be told.
Photography breaks through cultural divides, language divides, and misunderstanding. Our common language is found in being able to view a photo and being able to empathize with the feelings or subject matter. This is something that is unique to this art form. You can read a piece of writing and deem it false, but you cannot deny the truth captured in a photo.
Today’s society has a selfish habit of caring about what affects them and it is a luxury to ignore problems that don’t directly affect us. Photography takes away that luxury. It makes it so that others cannot be ignored. Photography captures stories in a way that increases society’s understanding and therefore increases empathy in our global community. Photography can allow us to tell the stories of those whose voices have been restricted or for those who cannot speak for themselves. It can be utilized to bring awareness to corners of the world where some may not have any interest in.
However, you don’t need to go to the opposite ends of the world in order to create a powerful photograph. Photographers also hold the power to make the viewer pause in the everyday happenings and beauty of this world. While we’re all busy running around trying to get everything completed on our to-do lists, it’s certainly easy to take the simple things for granted. It’s easy to pass up the flower blooming out of the concrete. It’s easy to walk right past the homeless man on the street corner who is used to being made to feel invisible. That is easy. It takes guts and silence to appreciate the beauty in these things. Photography allows for this pause and this silence. It assures us to take nothing for granted and to connect with the world in a visceral and genuine way.
Photographs have the power to tell four different stories: the story of the photographer, the story of the subject, the story of the viewer, and the story of our collective humanity. Into each moment of life, everyone brings different experiences and backgrounds which will affect how we view and interpret a piece of work or moment in time. We often hear the phrase that a picture is worth a thousand words. But I believe that a picture is worth one story: the story of humanity.