Photography as an instrument of social change

For a long time, the society has been facing different problems.  People have come up with diverse ways to solve these problems. These problems originate from various sources, though many of them are man created.  These are some of the issues;   different types of crime, censorship, discrimination, drug abuse, luck of access to education, social rejection, and extremism among many more.

Different photographer have used their work to document these issues and there after publicizing them. This documentation has become an eye opener to many people who have later offered help to alleviate the problems.  Many of the photographers decide to become strong advocates for these social evils, and later empowering the disadvantage groups.  They have provided tools and support that these groups need to grow in their communities.  These groups have so far made a difference in their societies and have looked at life from a positive point of view.

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Phil Borges is one such photographer who has focused on gender inequality in developing countries. He has transformed the women by his advocacy on this matter.  He has written a book entitled, “Women Empowered” which has featured documents of women who have had breakthrough over oppression and barriers of tradition.  From their victory over these barriers, they have become agents of change in their societies.

By using compelling pictures, and the accompanying motivational narrations of these women, Borges has taken the fight against this evil to higher heights. He has increased the awareness to a level where people have focused on it and are doing their best to improve the living standards of women.  He has new project – Stirring the Fire: A Global Movement to Empower Women and Girls, which he will be launching on March 8th on the International Women’s day. It includes a website and demonstration tour that is aimed at bridging the gap between knowledge of the issues facing women and the action on them.

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In America health issues have been on focus and even photographers have not been left behind in the race to seek for better health care.  Examples of these photographers are Robbie and Robert Bailey. The have a project Known as Faces4reforms: The Portrait of America’s Uninsured. This project has the aim of salvaging the neglected and politically polarized health care reforms.  This is what  Bailey says, “The widespread perception is that the uninsured are freeloaders, but the reality is there are a large number of people like Robert and me who are hardworking, small business owners who have to pay outrageous amounts of money for health care plans" (Use of Photography, par 6). He continues to say, "We have photographed hundreds of people -- from creative professionals to those who have recently lost their jobs -- and our goal is to put people, not politicians, back into the health care dialogue" (Use of Photography, par 6).

People have addressed such diseases as cancer that stigmatizes people in the society. The Pink initiative of Emilie Sommer, a wedding photographer based in the marine, has brought together the professionals from the wedding industry and other private donors. Their project is focused on funding education, research, awareness, and outreach for breast cancer.

The initiative has lobbied for funding and now it has over 100 donors and is coming up with other methods of raising fund for the same objective. This is over two years, for it was launched in 2008. This is all because of the interest of the family as weddings are geared towards building families. By her photography, Sommer got interested in solving the breast cancer problem among those suffering.

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People have found interest in helping the orphans too.  Photographers have visited orphanages and taken moving photographs that have evoked action from donors. Collective Lens has focused on orphans among many other problems they focus on. Here is an example of their visit to one Djene in Mali, a home of orphans in Mali.   They posted pictures and a moving story accompanying the pictures on their website. The story is about the efforts of Amadu and the help that he needs to raise orphans (The Orphans of Djenne, par 9).

All in all, photography has served as an instrument of social change. People have been moved by photographs from various scenes and have gone on to action to save situations. Many people who would have grown to misery, have been raised up to very productive people in the world. Through photographs from scenes of violence and war and other social injustices, societies have been transformed, by others who have been moved to champion for the rights of the oppressed.  Talented photographers should be given incentives and be encouraged to focus on issues that will transform the lives of people to a better state.

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