I have been making photographs since the age of twelve. I have paid for my life by doing this; I have had extraordinary experiences – witnessed violence, poverty, honour, kindness; met my wife and grown emotionally and intellectually stronger through thinking about what I have seen. I have come to recognise that one of the contributions photo-reportage offers is the simple, inspiring and provocative realisation that ‘History is Now’.
Committed realistic photographs say, ‘this is what life looks like now’, ‘this is what is happening now to our brothers and sisters, fathers and children around the world’. It tells me that no matter if they are gay, Moslem, Chinese or of another colour, if their lives now are filled with joy, pleasure and with needs met, if they are educated, healthy and can gain from their own labour and live a decent life, all is well.
But if now they are oppressed or the earth around them is being tormented by the rich and powerful, then we all need to respond. That is because we do not only live within history but we are responsible for it because we, individually and collectively, are history. I say this emphatically because we are taught in most schools that history is what rich, famous, royal and military people make, which is but a fragment of the truth because the mass of people are the builders and yes the destroyers who act out the minister’s policies, the king’s prerogative and the priest’s damnations of others.