Friday, 17 June 2011

Legless or Legacy?

IMG_7554, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

"You're pulling my leg, right? What is this photo! Call this photography? Are you twisted, or what?"

Well I don't know. What do you think? There's two ways of looking at this: first of all, I didn't invent the cripple. He was coasting through the Gare du Nord for all to see. This is life.

On the other hand, I photographed him. Is that right? Is that honourable? Is this life?

We generally think photographs of war and suffering are difficult to stomach, but we look at them anyway, in our daily newspapers or glossy weekly magazines. And we generally think positively about the photographer, having the courage and mettle to get to the heart of the action, to bring us our Sunday sofa truths, often at great personal risk or peril to him or herself.

But occasionally we wonder what sort of person could live with themselves, putting admittedly agonising lens choices and split-second aperture and shutter speed settings above just putting the camera down and Going To Help. I know it's a question war photographers do actually battle with every day, for most of them.

And on what an infinitely smaller scale is my grab shot of the Gard du Nord invalid. And yet, some of the fundamental ethical questions are the same.

I took the shot. This is Paris. You looked at it. What did you think? Can my photo stand up tall, or doesn't it have a leg to stand on? Don't forget my words are inseparable from my pictures; there is no dividing line for me. One inspires the other, and vice versa. Take one away, and the other fails and falls, like a lame man and his cane. Whether together they form an edifice worth contemplating... is anybody's guess, and yours is as good as mine.

(A Paris iPhone street photograph by Sab Will for the 'Paris and I' photo blog @ )

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