Thursday, July 8, 2010

Garbage, the Vocabulary of Change, and a Photographer's Responsibility

Garbage Images...that move society
I have just finished creating a series of images that I am very proud of, pictures that leave me feeling like I have contributed to more than just my income. These are garbage images…that is, dramatically illustrated photos of garbage, trash, rubbish and junk. One is a waterless tidal wave of trash while another is an ocean wave filled with garbage, the flotsam and jetsam of a consumer society, and yet another is a steep mountain of waste. Of course, I still want these images to sell and to earn money for me, but I am also hopeful they can help move our society in a positive direction, towards sustainability, recycling and environmental responsibility.

Photography And The Vocabulary of Change

I once heard creative consultant Deanne Delbridge say that it is the responsibility of photographers to lead society in positive directions with their imagery (it has been a long time since I heard that…and so I paraphrase). While her exact words did not stick with me, the importance of what she said has. I do believe that our photography, whether it is journalistic or advertising, leads societies in new directions. Photography is an important part of the vocabulary of change.

Equality, Solutions and Collective Impact

Images that portray equality, whether of gender or race help move us towards that equality. Photographs that dramatize the dangers of pollution move us closer to solutions. Pictures that inspire us to become better individuals can have a huge collective impact.

The Importance of Contribution

But whether the impact from such photography is large or small, it is most certainly there. Creating photography that inspires change and growth in the world are important not just for society but are also important for our own well being as humans. The older I get the more important I realize contribution is. How lucky are we to be able to follow our passion as photographers and to be agents for positive change at the same time?


Anonymous said...

I like the tidal wave the best. It would be neat to see a crop to see how the photoshop work went together.

John Lund said...


I just selected piles of garbage and overlapped them, then added a few individual pieces of garbage here and there, cloned out logs, and put a sky behind it. Absolutely nothing fancy!