Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Moving On and Changing Directions– AGAIN



Over the last couple of years I’ve become more and more dissatisfied with my photography. Well, not necessarily the photography actually but more so with the subject matter. Making technically perfect pretty pictures of attractive subjects was fun but at the same time, it wasn’t fulfilling.

Growing up in the 1950, some of my most vivid memories are of sitting on the floor in our living room quietly going through the stacks of Life and Look magazines that my mom kept. My mom also had subscriptions to both of those magazines so I was always eager to get my hands on the latest copies as soon as they arrived.

It was those magazines and the incredible photo essays they contained by such great photographers as Robert Capa, W. Eugene Smith and Margaret Bourke-White and so many others that first inspired me to want to become a photographer.

I actually starting taking pictures around the age of eight using a hand-me-down camera that my mom had given me. Though I’ve been a photographer for most of my life, I’ve never followed that original inspiration. Instead, once I turned pro, I did what far too many people do and that is I chased the almighty dollar, mostly shooting whatever I thought would sell.

A few weeks before my girlfriend Lyn died, I had decided I really needed to get back to what had originally inspired me to become a photographer in the first place. However, Lyn’s death effected me deeply and everything just sort of got put on hold. Her death still has a profound effect on me every single day but I simply have to start moving forward again. At sixty-one years of age I feel as though if I don’t do this now, it just ain’t gonna happen.

Poverty, illiteracy and hunger are issues that have always concerned me. I have personal experience with two of those (some might say all three.) Of those issues, hunger concerns me the most since it has a profound effect on being able to overcome the other two.

I’ve recently begun working on a photo documentary project to put a human face on the problems of hunger in New Mexico and looking for support from local organizations to help out with this important project. Whether or not I am able to receive any support though, I feel compelled to keep working on it. It’s a terribly important issue.

Irrespective of ideology, political leanings or the size of one’s bank account, every one of us should be embarrassed, ashamed and in fact, outraged, that here, in 21st century America, the richest, most powerful and most productive country that has ever existed on this planet, there should be ever be one single person that does not always have enough to eat.

Over the years, almost every U.S. President has declared some type of campaign or introduced legislation to end the scourge of hunger in America. We live in a country with enough food and money to feed everyone in the world twice over and yet, hunger still persists right here in the good ol' US of A.

One out of every eight people in America doesn’t always have enough to eat. That number jumps to at least one out of every six people in New Mexico that don’t always know where their next meal is going to come from and that includes one out of every four children. I find that obscene.

Of course, the United States Government no longer calls people who often lack enough to eat "hungry". Instead, ever since the George W. Bush administration objected to the term "hunger" these Americans are now called "food insecure", a euphemism used to describe hunger without actually carrying all of the weight that the word hunger implies.

Unfortunately, hunger in the United States as well as New Mexico is fundamentally a political issue. Charities, businesses, and private citizens all have very important roles to play in this issue but only governments, at every level, actually have the size, power and the resources to finally solve the problem once and for all. Governments must stop playing ideological games and one-upmanship and start actually LEADING the way for a change.

This is not going to be an easy project. In fact, baring something entirely unforeseen, within the next couple of weeks, it is going to get much, much harder.

Since Lyn’s death, I have been staying with relatives but I can only stay here until about July 15th. After that, I will be essentially homeless which is going to make literally everything infinitely more difficult. However, for some reason I seem to be drawn to and in fact driven by the prospect of doing this project and hopefully bring a significant amount of attention to the problem of hunger in New Mexico.

I may not be able to end hunger in New Mexico but I do plan on giving it my best shot by trying to bring this important issue to the attention of those who are best able to make a difference. That would be politicians as well as those people and organizations that are best able to put badly needed pressure on the politicians to bring about the needed changes in policy.