Photographers are also there!
I recently had the pleasure of attending the “World Press Photo Exhibition 2021” at the Brisbane Powerhouse. The exhibition was fantastic, albeit a little stifled with the restrictions of Covid-19, but none the less amazing as expected.
One of the greatest things an artist can do, be it visual arts, music or performance, is to study, enjoy and reference fellow artists of your chosen discipline.
On an absolute base level, it will open your eyes to a completely different perspective and approach to your familiar creative direction. That said, I am in no way a photojournalist or press photographer, although I am often sliding into the arena of documentary photography, which is the focus of the World Press Photo Exhibition.
While I was enjoying the exhibition and mingling with the other attendees (at a safe social distance of course) I started to really focus on the physical and mental state of the photographer shooting the frame/image that I was in front of.
Many of the images were taken in circumstances of either military conflict, natural disaster, social unrest or environmental extremes which is nothing new for world press photography entrants.
This did however start me thinking about the preparation, persistence, physical effort and mental focus the photographers that shot these images had to battle through to present this final, one, perfect shot. The shot that was now worthy of some accolades on a world-wide level.
While I was working this through my mind, I began overlaying the same preparation and physical effort I apply to shooting the images I create in my own realm of industrial photography… It is quite significant in the scheme of creating the final image.
It is often physically and mentally brutal.
Then while glancing around at the other attendees, it kind of dawned on me that the general population, viewing the images of this exhibition and countless other exhibitions that may have been shot in difficult environments, probably don’t truly appreciate the full background of what goes into taking that shot. That shot you are looking at, in that difficult and probably tragic environment. Particularly the fact, that the photographer had to have been there as well, while taking that frame. Let me make that clear…
The photographer was there as well!
The Photographer was there as well!
Working in a war torn environment as a soldier is tough, uncomfortable and emotionally difficult. Having to make decisions between life and death in a snap decision is unfathomable. I do not in any way compare a photographer working on the front line as comparable, but just let this sink in for a moment…the photographer was there as well…unarmed, possibly amongst heavy fire, uncomfortable, away from home and probably shitting themselves a lot of the time. But they got that shot you are now looking at in the gallery.
The image you might be enjoying probably took a photographer not only years of practice but hours of travel, training, inductions, equipment testing, time away from family, extreme weather conditions, conflict, dangerous environments, loooong hours, little sleep, verbal abuse, physical abuse etc.
Just so you know, that short list fits within my arena of industrial photography alone, so I hate to think what a frontline military conflict photographer might have to deal with.
I love being an industrial photographer and I love the work that is required behind the scenes.
Please, just take a minute next time you look at an image and have a think about what it might have taken for the photographer to get that image. And remember:
The photographer was also there.
“The Industrial Photographer”