I was looking through my emails and social media posts and I saw something on my Facebook feed that Daymon J. Hartley posted. It was a link to a lightbox of 9/11 images on Time Magazine’s website. It was a collection of images that had run in a variety of magazines and newspapers in the days that followed that tragic event. Along with the images ran comments from the picture editors, why they had chosen that particular image.
As I looked through the images, I was overcome with emotion and moved right back to a very deep place within, remembering the pain, the fear and disbelief of what happened that day. This time I looked at the images online. Ten years ago I first saw these photographs in print publications. Regardless of how I saw these images, in print or electronically – the effect was still the same.
It reminded me of how powerful our photographs and videos are. We are the eyes of our times, the ones to document history. We not only record history in imagery, sound and motion, but we have the power to create the future. History has been rewritten by imagery. Take the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s in America. Photographs created awareness of what was happening in the South and put the eyes of the world upon us. That forced change.
As photojournalists and video journalists and non-professionals as well, we need to realize the power of what we do and the influence it can make. It’s a responsibility I take seriously. I feel that it’s not just my duty to document history as it unfolds, but it’s my right to do so as well. These days those rights are being questioned in some places. We need to be diligent in keeping those rights in America. Isn’t that what makes our country different?
As we race towards a destination unknown with technology quickening the pace – let’s be mindful who is controlling the portals of the future – so that future generations can learn from the past.