NGOs as Mercenary: The Task is to Manipulate Emotions
"But I still think photography is a strong tool in advocating a world without poverty.Shotsman's advice is clear. Treat aggregate catastrophes like genocide, famine, epidemic, war, and so forth, as well as the displacement, hardships and suffering they generate, as problems for remediation by charity. Treat the ensuing hardships as tasks for individuals to overcome provided, of course, they receive a philanthropic hand. Focus on our common human dignity even in the face of hardship and deprivation. Ignore, at least by implication, the political and economic forces that continuously create catastrophes. Neglect the political actions groups or communities take in hopes of addressing their shared predicament collectively, taking aim at what they see as its probable source. That would require that we acknowledge and strategize about collective problems and their structural sources. And that would distract us from giving alms.
Not by trying to capture the big contemporary issues, like climate change and food crises in a general way.But by telling small stories of people trying to live a small but happy life. Not by tryng to show 'the truth,' but by showing that the truth has many faces.
Not by showing harsh images alone but trying to lure people into another reality by showing the love and beauty that exists, even in the most deprived situations. Showing the similarities between those viewing an image and the victims, rather than the huge differences.
We all love our children and good food. We all need a safe place to stay, reliable neighbors and friends. Focusing on the strength of the people, not as powerless victims but as capable individuals in need of support to gain control (again) of their own lives."
And, of course, veracity can go too - so long as it is for a good cause!
"For people to become interested they need to be moved in an emotional and esthetical way.If Don Rumsfeld, or Dick Cheney or Karl Rove had uttered something like this in public, there would be an outcry. (I am confident they thought something very much like this!) And, of course, groups like Oxfam do important work trying to clean up large scale messes that trail in the wake of political and economic catastrophes. Yet, insofar as the work of photographers is shaped and constrained by the strictures Shotsman lays out, photography is disabled politically.
So all techniques, manipulations and enhancements are allowed to highlight the emotional quality of the photo. In this sense I see the need for the photojournalist to become the photo artist of reality."
* I do not know if Bittencourt's work was underwritten directly or indirectly (see the essay by Simon Norfolk I note in the previous post) by an outside agency or organization. It seems, though, that his work adheres quite closely to the strictures Shotsman articulates. This suggests the points she is making function very much as the 'common knowledge' that animates standard practices.