Friday, April 4

i'm trying to get a few stories off the ground. lots of meetings and talking and explaining and educating and a little deprogramming. i don't know that it's always been this hard to explain to people what it is that photojournalists do. i have a romantic notion that back in the LIFE days, more people understood the goal of a photo story, the method of making one, the concept of candid.

i find myself distinguishing still photography from tv news all the time, and people are a little freaked out by the difference. the tv news model nauseates me with its faux "real," but at the same time, for the people in those stories, tv news is very comforting. the news crew is solely focused on you for only a few hours at most. they ask you to recreate events or conversations. bumble it the first time? how about another take? it's all very staged which gives someone time and space to put on their mask. in a sense, the tv news model encourages people to play themselves on tv. it's you, only more well spoken, pressed and starched with a clean house. tv news wants the polished sound bite, the compact visual sequence, the appearance of documentary without all the messy details.

when i tell people the story is the messy details, they get a little scared. it's a lot to ask someone to be a part of their lives for an indefinite amount of time. it's a lot to ask that someone take off their mask and speak on the record even when they aren't very eloquent, even when they have no make-up on, even when their lives are in shambles.

i spoke with many gatekeepers this week and part of my struggle is in making them see that there are people who are this open, there are families and individuals that want their story told. it's an incredible gift that i'm always amazed people give. they are the basis for my entire career. small and large, these gifts are the photographs. there's no other way to make them.

it's challenging to overcome the paternal protectionism of gatekeepers. all i want is the opportunity to ask.

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