Golden Nuggets

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Tell the story of the people, not your own story. As a Western photographer, I couldn’t go to a different country and tell the story of the people without having context. Otherwise, it would be an exploration of what the photographer wants to show, like an assignment, rather than truly discovering what the real story is. For example, George Rodger was asked to explore regions in Africa to show how well the Marshall Plan was affecting their economies and redevelopment after WWII. However, in reality he found that the machinery given was rusting and that there was tools and no education, therefore making it the ‘biggest con’ for US diplomacy (according to Rodger). He always wanted to tell the story of the tribes, without any Western influences, when their values were wholly their own.

Photographers should show respect for their subject. Without context this cannot be reached. If you can’t comprehend or sympathise with someone’s story then there is no use telling it. George Rodger (again) spent time with African tribes. They didn’t want him to take photographs, and he didn’t, although he wanted to. I think as humans we wouldn’t want to be exploited, so why should we use our camera as a tool to exploit others. Rodger got in to daily life with other tribes and photographed them sensitively; however, photographer Leni Riefenstahl (whom admired Rodger) took short trips to the Nuba tribe and came back with photographs which appears to exploit the tribe more than celebrates it. She brings a Westernised eye, with attention to the nudity over their tribal values.

Leni Riefenstahl ©
George Rodger ©

Finally, don’t add drama. If a story is interesting and you’re sensitive towards it then you as a photographer should naturally be able t tell it in a compelling way. I believe that Rodger’s love for Africa is poignant in his work, how he wishes to revisit the topic. He was a legend at telling the every day story from the inside.






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