I don’t yet know the answer to this question and I am ok with that. In the next 15 weeks I intend to drill down in to what interests me and shape a question that will form the basis of my project. My motivation for this work is a lifelong interest in what life is about, how can I experience it to the full and share this with the people around me. Photography provides me with an acute way of looking at the world and capturing what is interesting to me. Life experience is enhanced when I can be present and photography is a powerful way of being fully focussed on the moment.
I could start with something like ‘what are the triggers within a photograph that have a profound effect on human emotion?’ We can all name pictures that impact almost everyone in powerful ways. The blue marble shot of planet earth taken by Apollo 17 in 1972 is one of the most reproduced images in history (Wikipedia).
Also from 1972 is Vietnam girl showing a group of soldiers and children including a naked Vietnamese girl, Phan Thj Kim Phuc, running away from smoke rising from the ground.
More recently is the death of Alan Kurdi who drowned on September 2nd 2015 (Wikipedia) as he and his family of Syrian refugees tried to reach Europe during the refugee crisis.
The first image evokes wonder in most people and make us feel how amazing it is to be alive. The latter two evoke horror, anger, fear and a strong desire that something must be done. They are photographs that have had and still have a profound effect on human emotions.
A lot of thoughts surface as I look at these photographs again. The blue marble amazes as we look back on our earth for the first time. None of us have seen this view for real but we believe this is what it must be like. Suddenly we are able to look at where we are from the outside instead of our normal view of seeing the universe from within.
Naipalm girl and Alan Kurdi impacts everyone who sees them. This is the worst about ourselves. How can this happen? How can we allow it to happen? What was my role in allowing this to happen? The picture shocks and does initiate action by the press and then politicians. There is a trace of these images left inside everyone who has viewed them. Something strange then happens as the impact decays quickly over time and the image is tucked away from view.
Something that interests me is that some viewers find it disrespectful to the memory of these children to reproduce these images. Is this guilt that so little was done? Is it a religiously motivated response? Other viewers see them as a reminder of the action we all need to take to make our world a better place. My thesis for my Masters in Cognitive and Decision Sciences was ‘when given the same information why to two people make different decisions?’ There is something at play here as each individual who looks at these images is triggered emotionally and then have their own unique response to it.
These images went global, had an impact and changed the world. They trigger human emotions and can effect change.
When I take a photograph I want to have a positive impact on my own emotions and those of a viewer. This little enquiry in to what my research question might be prompts a question of whether that is what I want. What if I could take photographs that made the world a better place.
More reflection necessary.