Family photos, in general, capture moments of happiness; smiling faces celebrate births, weddings, graduations, vacations, moments of joy. Whoever looks at our albums, takes with them our feelings of happiness, free of tragedy and disenchantment. No one takes photos of what they wish to forget!
But there are some people who do because we are not destined to photograph just happiness but also sadness, drama, inequality, the cruelty of war, the daily fight of people in order to survive in a complex world. In other words, “life as it is”.
The famous photographer Eugene Smith said, “photography is only a weak voice, but at times, only at times, one or more photographs bring our feelings towards the unconscious”. For a century, in order to capture the target for amateurs, Eastman Kodak invented a camera and said “you press the button, we do the rest”. This slogan favoured a great diffusion of photography and assured its commercial success – the great photography industry – but unfortunately it put the focus on the finger, making us forget that a photograph depends upon the photographer.
With respect Carl Mydams from the prestigious magazine “Life”: “I always feel when looking at one of my photos someone exclaims, I like it. Why did you take it?” And I feel tempted to respond, “with intelligence and heart.”
This coincides with a point made by Willy Retto, a Peruvian photographer who died during his work in Uchuraccay; for him, “A photo is to encounter the message of things, to capture human personality, sentiments, actions, reactions in a fraction of a second”. This line of thought has more affinity with the human look than with the daguerreotype laboratories of the 19th century. There has been famous and anonymous representatives who transmit difficult, cruel, harmonious and soft images in the different époques of life.
Since old images from the beginning of the industrial revolution until the scenes by Torres Gemelas, or since the themes of Martín Chambi until James Nachtwey, there has been a century of social, political, cultural and technological changes, but at base the same passion to create a lasting image by means of the photograph what has meaning and value in a given époque, or give witness at times to something insupportable, what one wishes to change. At present in Latin America, it is not a few photographers and graphic journalists who are committed to their location in a permanent search for truth and justice.
To all these photographers, witnesses to happiness, pain, and daily struggles of a town, I dedicate the following work. It consists of a show of images collected over the length of my career, this passionate profession. “Like many things, there is much in what the eye may see”.