An inspiring action is something one thinks of when seeing a good deed done. For some photojournalists, their profession is intended to do just that. In taking thought-provoking, sometimes hard to look at, photos of a war-ravaged country or a starving child, photojournalists are inspiring action through their work for the betterment of the people in the photos.
The Inspiring Actions of Photo Journalists
Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor by author Thomas A. Nazario is a book that features photography by Pulitzer Prize-winner Renee Byer. The photographs capture the lives and struggles of people from 10 different countries living in poverty on less than a dollar a day. Byer worked as a photojournalist for the Sacramento Bee for many years before becoming a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer.
Inspired by the reaction of people viewing her photos for Living on a Dollar a Day before the book and exhibit were published, Byer created the Youbridge-it app. The app allows viewers of her photographs to donate to specific poverty-related causes as soon as they see the people in the photos and are inspired to help.
For Example, Intrahealth International is one of the foundations that viewers can donate to specifically through the Youbridge-it app. This organization provides treatment for women with obstetric fistula in Mali, which accounts for six percent of all maternal deaths every year and is preventable. With the Youbridge-it app, people can simply pull up the app at the exhibit or when looking through the book and donate.
Aside from helping women across the globe with her photography, Byer is “…asking people to imagine that reality as their reality.” Byer believes people are desensitized to photographs of people suffering, another reason why the app is so important and effective.
Her belief in the power of photography has served as a catalyst for change. It happens in real time, as people feel empathy while viewing the pictures; they can donate immediately on the app. Connections like these are essential to inspiring action that creates change by means of photojournalism.
The Dangers and Sacrifices of Photo Journalists
Not only are photojournalists opening doors to the ills of the world but they also often risk their lives in taking these photos. Chief photographer for Agence France-Presse in Kabul Shah Marai was killed in a suicide bombing in April of this year on the job. Marai had been documenting the war and lives devastated by corrupt government rule in Afghanistan since 1998. Over the course of 20 years, 18,000 photos taken by Marai had been published, educating the world on the horrors and realities of people living in war-ravaged Afghanistan.
In countries where media is controlled by corrupt governments, photojournalism speaks truths that inspire those globally to step in. Though Marai and other photojournalists are not necessarily directly linked to any charity organizations, their photos are inspiring action among those that are more fortunate.
Neither charity organizations nor the media would be quite as effective without the photographs of the truth to go along with them. As Byer said, putting oneself in a suffering person’s shoes inspires empathy, and that empathy is what creates change.
There are millions of suffering people in the world, and photojournalists are connecting the gap between us and them. The continued innovation of apps like Youbridge-it and the bravery of the photojournalists behind such projects will help people living in poverty around the world by inspiring action from the more fortunate.
– Hope Kelly