Being a photographer/ Creating a travelling gallery

I believe that a photographer is not a person with a camera. It is a person who sees pictures in his head, who thinks, imagines, talks and writes. Like each of us.

The general questions about art in my life, the choice to write, to create pictures and photograph people are still not answered in my head. Why? How? When? Who? Which color? What should I say? While travelling in Africa and discussing with my friends what we saw and how we can show it for everybody else who is not with us, who is far away from even imagining what we see – I again asked myself what it means to be a phographer. Is it condition? Is it quality? Talent? Maybe, something what that “smart machine” allows you to do?

Of course, the first thing that comes up to the people’s minds around me when I ask “How to show this for others?” is: “Hey girl, you have a camera, take a shot, they will see where you are, what you saw!”

But… is it true? Will they really understand what I actually saw? What picture I had in my head in combination of ideas and visions? I don’t think so. They need to see, to think, to remember and then create a picture. And it doesn’t matter if it will be a digital picture, painting, pencil drawing or story written or told. This ability means for me being a photographer, to photograph your thoughts, to show your emotion and opinion, to share your life experience. But again: Is it quality, skills, talent? What does it mean to have a camera? How do you get a photographer?

Question after question came into my head. I will make a picture of the street full of trash. But will others see the angry look of the man passing by, the escaping women behind the corner, who forgot about everything what she was doing, scared eyes of the little girl, frozen while
playing in the sand, the waving unsatisfied man on the corner, the boy throwing a stone on me after I showed my camera trying to photograph the daily life of Mauritanian. Will they hear the noise of the street: beeping cars, a screaming lady, roaring animals, wind? Well… A camera simply won’t catch all of these impressions. So it’s not about the “smart machine”, not at all. It is about me, my contact with people and places on pictures, my way of thinking, my questions and answers.

After realization of it, my friends and I came up with the idea of a “Travelling Gallery”:

·        We chose 20 pictures/messages and printed it on a canvas (for easier transportation);

·        We collected secondhand clothes, which were very similar to children’s from the pictures (to created 3D effect – so that people can touch things from picture);

·        We bought rope and pins (to be able to expose our gallery simply everywhere)

·        We put our exhibition in a suitcase and travelled around Europe showing pictures, telling stories and questioning people, collecting opinions. We had a great time!

The ability to share knowledge, feelings and opinions is priceless! We gain a lot, I think we even improve as personalities. I also think, people who saw/heard/touched our pictures now have a different understanding of what it means to be poor in Africa. I am sure, they remember smiles and joy, the energy of children that I met. This project gave me some answers for questions which were bothering me while travelling. For me, photography has a purpose. It can teach.

Svetlana Kosenko

Our facebook infopage: https://www.facebook.com/TravellingGallery

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