Last night I felt like a soldier without his gun. With thousands of protesters rising across the country in revolt against the new President Elect, Donald J. Trump, I didn’t have the camera I usually have wrapped around my hand. A photographer who shoots photos, not bullets and each photo brings a narrative during these crucial moments. Instead I had my iPhone, my secondary weapon was a tool commonly used by those whose eye on the narrative is for the snapshot of the moment—An outsider to what’s going on around them— I tried to be aware of the narrative. Not to be an outsider looking in, but rather an insider who is trying to visually represent the words chanting throughout the streets. The emotional level was beyond just in the streets of protesters. There was a fog of anxiety that started to rise during the time of which everything turned upside down at around 2:30am, November 9th and with it was a dreadful look in the faces of those going to work only hours later. Unlike the normal morning commute, the train was morbidly silent; the eyes of the riders were heavy, faces were resting with agony. No one talked, but it seemed everyone was thinking the same thing. It was the sunniest mourning I’ve ever seen.
I was able to go shoot the scenes of the protest as they were happening with my secondary weapon, creating a story to later tell. Being able to show a narrative and bring awareness to a situation. Some photographers go into war zone trying to capture the events unfolding in front of them; others go into the streets of Chicago to do the same. Documenting reality in such a truthful manner captivates viewers. There is a burden that lies within the photographer during these moments of intensity. To be consistently aware is to know the danger of the reality ahead. It’s a burden that also holds them together because if not them, then who? Firing your weapon to represent the truth, nothing more and nothing less.
In a modern era where everyone has a camera, I speak to those not normally seen to themselves as photographers. I urge you to tell a story. I urge those who are willing to go out into the call of action to document, to make a moment last forever. When future bodies forget the details of past writings, an image is seen as an imprint of past moments, never to be forgotten. The image and word are two different types of representation. Bringing those together conveys the message strongly but a photograph can stand-alone while the word needs clarification of truth. If we hold true to these ideals, then we can preserve history through photography. Showing a story that involves the message of those screaming to be heard, seen and true. These events are here and they are loud. Once you take this responsibility, you regain the understanding of the burden that many photographers before you have endured. It’s a burden that is defined by the anxiety of not being able to represent the situation manifesting before you. To be anxious, is to not hesitate. You cannot hesitate if you are a photographer. Hesitation kills the moment. You cannot regain the past if seen without the action of the shutter. So you must expect it, you must challenge yourself to see the unpredictable. Especially during moments of high tension in mass media, it is important to capture the reality of the situation and not let people be skewed over by an image manipulated to look a certain way. There is always a constant recognition that there is something happening outside the frame of view. Understanding that allows for further critical thinking, as a photographer I will try to pull the outside in, allowing frame of a photo to incorporate the unseen variables that are constantly going on around me.
The future holds unexpected turns and we don’t have the luxury to see these events unfold. Standing around a crowd of people trying to express their solemn grief as well as anger, I felt powerful—an insider looking within—taking photos and videos. I also felt the burden, but my actions could allow my photographs to be seen to those can be inspired to do the same. Being able to convey the protesters emotions to the best of my capability. I quickly envisioned myself as a photojournalist. My mind set was seeing unexpected turns and showcasing them as subject of crucial importance. Creating scenarios of different possibilities, making sure the sight of the story never left my vision. I wanted to make my story and theirs as truthful as possible.
There’s no time for hesitation, I urge you to tell a story.
*I wrote this after the protest to clear my thoughts. purely expressing my opinions this is not entirely edited but I need to share what is going on in my mind *