Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Changing Perceptions, One Photo At a Time

Not many words make me cringe but among the ones that do is the word “Orphanage”. Recently in the news, Anas Aremeyaw Anas uncovered a despicable, scandalous mishandling of donations and the abuse of children at the Osu Children’s Home. The nation grunted her displeasure for a couple of days and everything went back to normal again. In the midst of the bad news and decay however, some people are doing brilliantly well with the kids they take care of, and today, I would want to make special mention of Kinder Paradise and SOS. 

I once in a while get the opportunity to make photographs for Kinder Paradise’s calendar. This year, I took my kids along and they had a blast. The girl in the photograph is my daughter. The dress she is wearing is not hers. She soiled hers at lunch and one of her new found friends in the orphanage offered her a dress to wear in the mean time. My kids didn’t want to leave. There was too much fun to be had. Now, they keep bugging me about when we can go there again.

The reason I posted this image is because “poverty porn” has been on my mind a lot lately. Poverty porn is when you see those disturbing images of dying, malnourished, kwashiorkor-bearing, mostly African children clothed in flies. I hate those images. Fortunately, a lot of NGOs who come my way nowadays, will always send a brief saying “We want positive images”. And I agree with them. Even the most gorgeous beauty can be photographed in a way that is not flattering. In other words, everybody can be made to look bad, if a photographer wants to… and if we really want to we can see the beauty in people, no matter their circumstances.

I strongly believe that even though Africa is busily rising out of the ashes, to the majority of the world; it will remain for a long while, the land of starving children, bare-breasted scarified women, AK47 wielding rebels and greedy big-stomach-small-brain politicians. It takes a long time to change a bad image… but we can do it, one photograph at a time.

Have a great week. 

How Do You Uproot 500 Years of Racism?