PHOTOGRAPHY: A TOOL OF SOCIAL CHANGE

“Let’s change the world” was one of the first things said at the inception of the collective, when Peter Robinson answered Andrew Stawicki’s complaint about how photography had become too much smash and grab.

The way I see it…. Photography only affects the people that see it and understand it, and to understand art you need an open mind. The problem is that the people that understand art are the ones that are actually trying to be a part of change in the society.

If forced to choose just one of my passions, photography or social work; life would be a bit unbalanced for me.  One of the greatest aspects of both for me is the social interaction with others.  In both senses, there are times when relationships may be a little intense?  But for the most part, I really enjoy both passions and would be incomplete without both.  The social work contributes to that side of me that has a very deep purpose for changing the world for the better by empowering others.  The photography side contributes to my artistic world enjoyment side that wants to bring light to all the positive happening around.

The assumption that art (making images) was once decorative and is now communicative of social and political ideas is not accurate. Art has not gone through a lineal process from simple to complex. Photographers use their cameras as tools of exploration, instruments for change. Their images are proof that photography matters—now more than ever. Social work has struggled with image problems and misperceptions of the profession and the types of services it provides. Photography is a medium that has been used effectively by other professions to change attitudes and perceptions.

When it comes to social work, making images is never used solely for decorative purposes. Making images plays a vital role to communicate ideas. Speaking of, Our NGO Jigyaasa Educational Trust has a separate wing of media team, with 5 photographers. Now, the whole point of making images for each and every one of them, is just to make people aware of the noble work our NGO has been doing since past 2 years. After all, whats the point of having a DSLR if you cant make images that are going to create impact on the society, that are going to inspire other people to take initiative? Of course few people might think that all the work our media team is doing is just to get popularity or gain the attention, but it really doesn’t matter to us. We can’t keep throwing stones at each and every dog that keeps barking at us while we are on our way to contribute a little to the society. We know in our heart that we are trying to reach people through our photographs and videos to inspire them like we have done till now. I believe People have an emotional response to images. What people see is often more likely to influence their opinion than what they simply read or hear. This is why the impact of photographs and videos of “Jigyaasa Educational trust” was so strong, that it resulted in many people taking initiatives. A college student from Kolkata got inspired by our work and founding his team he now helps the underprivileged people in Kolkata, same thing happened in Nasik, and Kolhapur too. One of our friend from Gaya, Bihar started the coachings for underprivileged with his team and he now is a part of team Jigyaasa.  Before humans taught themselves how to read, they used images to tell themselves stories, to teach their histories, to teach the past.

Nor do I think one ‘has to be educated’ to appreciate art. Photography is not merely an appreciation of form and content coupled to a sense of esthetics.

WHAT ANY IMAGE MEANS DEPEND ON THE CONTEXT IN WHICH IMAGE IS CREATED, FOR WHAT PURPOSE IT IS CREATED, BY WHOM IT IS CREATED, AND FOR WHOM IT IS CREATED.

Images are much more than a simple record. Photography speaks to the best and most generous part of our human nature – the desire to share what we find beautiful and interesting with others. You only have to look at Flickr and a multitude of photo sharing sites to see this impulse at work. Millions of people sharing their personal, passionate and sometimes quirky take on the world around them. Our images can involve a world of strangers in our life. If you can’t understand how powerful is that?, you’re just a dumb-ass. Social Photography, at its best, is a powerful language which speaks to our emotions. It allows us to tell our story and show others our framing of the world around us.

Photography is important to society because it enables the diffusion of objective information through the visual capture of things as they really are. We believe that as a photographer, it is our responsibility to document the places, events, and people we come across in life that we feel are important, beautiful, or special. It’s a compelling belief, and may just be true.