From the Middle of Things

If I have one goal for my photographs, it is to be engaged: with the scene, with the larger context (social, personal, political), and, most important, with the human subjects. For me that means being as present as possible, both physically and emotionally. To achieve this,  I make almost all my photos from close up, with short focal length lenses: from the middle of things.

Working this way, one needs to negotiate a delicate boundary between presence and unwarranted intrusion.  To take an engaged photograph—as opposed to a voyeuristic one—requires compassion and respect. When this is not possible a photo, no matter what the subject, may not be worth taking. 

My first photographs date from the 1980s and 90s when I was working as a photojournalist in Latin America. At the time I worked with a couple of photo news agencies--Gamma (now absorbed into Getty Images) and Impact Visuals (now defunct). But beyond reporting the news, what I most wanted was to be where people were struggling to make their lives more just and humane, and to make some small contribution, if only as a witness. 

These days I choose more varied subjects and places, but my approach is much the same. Lots of opportunities for engaged photography.