Reading Response #3

I loved the reading about Laura Greenfield’s photography. The story of her 1993 photography was very compelling, since it was interesting to learn about the story behind it and the fact that the photograph reached a mass audience and critical appeal despite the mundane story behind it.

I find it compelling how the photograph was taken by a photographer who had different plans, but struggled to find success abroad by taking photos of the “other” and more exotic locales. In many cases, I think media producers face the pressure of discovering something new and being responsible for telling unfamiliar stories through video, photograph, etc. It’s inspiring to know that a photographer can return to a familiar environment and find their best work there.

I also would like to travel for various creative projects, but this article makes me feel like there’s still a lot I could discover by staying close to home and simply talking to new people, finding new places and capturing them. There is value in categorizing and documenting mundane circumstances, that’s what the field of anthropology is all about since it seeks to find understanding and meaning in everyday human existence and its rituals. It’s cool to know that photography can inspire these feelings.

This story reminds me of both Humans of New York and Dogs of Instagram, both projects focused on simply taking portraiture of people in New York City, but the interesting part lies in the storytelling that accompanies it, not necessarily the inherent thrill or artistic value of the image. I know Greenfield’s iconic image was not accompanied by storytelling in the caption, but I think the philosophy remains the same, relying on the faith that familiar faces and scenes are enough to capture the imagination and attention of an audience. Here are photos from those two series.