Image: A representation of the external form of a person or thing in art.
My mother-in-law has an obsession with taking photographs. She doesn’t care if one of the children is crying or not posing with a gleaming smile, she simply wants to capture every moment. To cement time on a shiny piece of paper in order to gaze fondly at it and remember the events of that particular time.
Photography is an amazing tool that can have a far reaching impact, but some photos in life show a very different tale. Shocking images of migrant families fleeing their homelands and searching for a better life are plastered all over social media at the moment. People’s emotions and passion to provide a better life for their families and escape terror and horrors many of us can only imagine, are being spread as far and wide as they can reach. And to a point this raises awareness and allows the viewer an insight into something that is of mighty importance at the moment. But do we really need to capture the last breaths of children? Or the private, intimate moments of grief of their parents? Do these people want their photo shared without their permission all over the virtual highway? I know I wouldn’t want a photo of my dead child washed up on a beach, arms and legs flung at impossible angles and clothes washed from them by the sea. Nor would I want to frame the image of my head just above water, cradling my baby and trying with all my power to stop her from drowning.
But not wanting to share these images doesn’t mean I don’t give a shit.
Of course I do. The image of that poor woman trying desperately to keep her baby afloat keeps me awake at night and if I could I would thrust my hands through the photo and grab them both out of the water. Which I hope to God is what the person did after he’d captured her desperation and suffering. Heck maybe saving them should’ve been his priority, not photographing them clinging to life.
Seeing these photos is upsetting, but so is the assumption that because I’m not sharing them I’m heartless.
Seeing these photos is not going to make someone care more than they already do. They are either the kind of people who are empathetic or not and no amount of horrific images are going to change that.
Seeing these images could bring back someone’s own personal horror at an event they’ve worked hard to pull through.
We do not need to see people’s darkest hours in print. There are other many powerful ways to get the important messages they are trying to convey across.
We instead need to focus our energies on helping, however we can. Be it donating money or clothes or time.
Or simply by saying a prayer for them all.