The Eyes of Our Times

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.

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Election Day – Is Anyone Paying Attention?

I’ve always loved Election Day.  It makes me feel like I have the power to make a difference because I know that just one vote can.  I’ll always vote in any given election – not just the Presidential election every four years – but even (especially) in my local election where often one vote has made the difference. I’m grateful that I live in a country where I have the right to vote and I hope I never take that “right” for granted.

When I was 18 years old I couldn’t vote.  The year was 1969; I had just graduated from high school and went off to college. It was a time of unrest and protest on college campuses because the Vietnam War was escalating and every day young men my age were dying.  Young men that couldn’t even cast a vote for their Commander in Chief because the voting age was 21 and they were too young.  Too young to vote but not too young to give their life for their country.  The voting age changed on July 1, 1971 with the Twenty Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution changing the voting age from 21 to 18 in response to the student activism against the war.

It’s hard to believe that change happened in my lifetime and even harder to believe that when my grandmother was in her twenties she couldn’t vote because she was a woman.  I will never take my vote for granted because I feel somehow it dishonors all the people who fought hard for that right. I also feel that apathy can lead to disaster.  Just look at history if you don’t believe me.

We all get caught up in living our lives and sometimes we don’t see the silent shifts of power. But if we’re not careful and aren’t diligent in protecting our rights – they will quietly go away without us ever noticing.  And it makes no difference what your political persuasions are. You have no right to whine about what you don’t like if you don’t vote.

I don’t want to be the one explaining to my grandchildren when they ask me why my generation let “whatever” happen – happen. I don’t want to be the one who says that I was too busy posting on my Facebook and didn’t take the time to go to the polls and vote.

Go vote today – it’s the greatest feeling in the world.

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