Be human first and photographer second

picnicpicnic-7picnic-6picnic-4picnic-3picnic-8picnic-12picnic-10picnic-2Turn on the evening news and it’s down right depressing to see all of the craziness going on with people. Craziness within one’s family, one’s neighborhood, one’s city or one’s country. People are killing people with little to no regard for human life. A large amount of these horrific acts have to do with someone’s skin color. It seems that people today fail to see past one’s skin color or physical difference to view the true person inside.

We as photographers often get tossed into the mix to cover a story or an event. We are the outsiders, sometimes invited and sometimes not. As such we need to recognize that fact before we even raise a camera to our eye. We need to remember to be human first.

One of the most enjoyable parts of this profession is getting to know my subjects. I genuinely like learning about different people. Show that when you are on assignment. Show your subjects that you aren’t just there to take photos but that you actually do care about them as human beings.

On this assignment I was to photograph mothers and their children returning from a visit with their incarcerated husbands/fathers. It was an early father’s day event that was sponsored by a couple of organizations and congressman Danny Davis. A picnic was to be held for the returning families and the congressman was supposed to be arriving with them.

I was most definitely the outsider when I showed up. For the first forty-five minutes I didn’t take a single photograph. Instead I got to know the volunteers, the event organizers and then eventually the families. In turn they realized I was ok to be there and trusted that I would represent them well with my photographs.

As a photographer I came away with much better photographs. As a human being I heard wonderful stories from people’s lives and met some wonderful individuals. In some way I hope I showed that people still do care, no matter what their skin color is.

Happy wanderings and be human first.