Change the world by using a camera

March 1st, 2010 by | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

As I was reading through the archives of Material World, a blog create by the department of anthropology at UCL and NYU, I came across a blog entry posting a link to a site that speaks on the lines of my values for photography.  Click! Photography Changes Everything is a website providing a great collection of examples of photographers who changed these following things:

  • Who we are
  • What we do
  • What we see
  • Where we go
  • What we want
  • What we remember

My photography projects always focused on these key ideas.

Photo by Rachel Chaikof.

Who we are: In the past five years, I’ve been traveling around the world where I’ve been using my camera as a tool to research the cultural differences by not only photographing people but also conversing with them to gain a better understanding about their lifestyle and also to practice my foreign language speaking skills.  This experience led to my discovery of enjoying studying anthropology.

What we do: My camera hasn’t been just a tool to photograph what I see, but also to research the cultural aspects of the surroundings.  It also forces me to form a relationship with strangers to educate myself about their cultures.

What we see: In 2006, when I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a condition whereby individuals slowly lose their vision,  I set a foot to travel around the world to appreciate everything I see while I have usable vision.  I came to a realization that it may be the only moment that I may see the incredible wonders of our planet.

Photo by Rachel Chaikof

Photo by Rachel Chaikof

Where we go: Being a photographer taught me to never be afraid of strange places, and those foreign places could lead me to surprises.  It forces me to go beyond the boundaries.  For example, when I was in Besançon, France in 2008, I came across an old looking staircase leading to something on top of a brick wall in middle of nowhere.  In spite of possible risks, I went up the stairs as I thought there may be something interesting to photograph.  At the top of the stairs, I saw a magnificent view of mountains and a river looping around the mountains.

What we want: Photography changed what I want to do with my future.

What we remember: Because I take the time to think about how I want to photograph the scene that best represents the place by deciding on the composition, depth of field and shutter speed and photograph strangers that best represent their culture by conversing with them, I form lasting memories of my travel experiences because of the invaluable time into which I put.

Moreover, my main goal as a photographer is to is to research cultural issues in today’s society, to analyze their long-term impacts and to create change by using my camera as one of the tools.  Lewis Hine is one fine example as he photographed children working in factories which led to implementing a child labor law.  Eugene Smith is another example as his well-known photograph, Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath, depicting a mother caring for her severely deformed daughter who had Minamata disease, which was caused by mercury poisoning helped created a better awareness about the Minamata disease.  Thus, the awareness of the issue resulted in the government’s recognition of and compensation of those who were suffering from this severe medical condition.

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