Today, I was researching ideas for our final multimedia projects. I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of someone I know who would be an interesting subject or make an interesting story. I decided to get some inspiration from the professionals and began looking at photo galleries online. I soon realized that none of my original ideas were anywhere remotely close to being as interesting and emotional as what these professionals get to experience through their work.
There was one gallery that was especially intriguing to me. Inside Pelican Bay State Prison by Jeremiah Bogert is a photo gallery from the LA Times that gives viewers an inside look into the Secure Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California. I think prisons, jails, criminals, and court cases always make such interesting stories because they are people and places the average person will never experience in their lifetime. These stories of murders, mobsters, and rapists are so publicized and sensationalized in today’s society that everyone wants to get a part in the action. Most people will never get the chance to walk down the halls of a high-security prison and talk with the inmates, but as a photographer Jeremiah Bogert did.
While browsing through the gallery, I imagined what the photographs would look like as a multimedia project. I imagined the photos being displayed as interviews with inmates played in the background. The images themselves are very moving, and the fact that all the images are in black and white really intensifies the emotions and seriousness of the prison. As the images flipped from photos of gang tattoos to jail weapons to the dingy cells, prisoners could give their testimonials in the background: how they ended up in prison, what the conditions in prison are like, how long they will be there, etc. Hearing first hand from the inmates themselves is much more powerful than reading a transcribed copy of the interview.
As a photographer, you are given the opportunity to travel to amazing places, meet the most interesting people, and share their stories with others. Photography connects people: it connected a girl from Charlottesville, Va with an inmate in Crescent City, Ca. I got to see their story and witness their struggle. When we share these stories, we being to see these inmates as real people, rather than just criminals. It’s the same when we see images of civilians being affected by our wars overseas or the children who are starving to death every day in Africa. When we see them and hear their story, they are no longer a faceless, anonymous person but a real human being.
Of course as a student, I would not be given the opportunity to photograph a prison and interview the inmates. I could, however, do a project about homelessness in Columbia; visit homeless shelters, find out where they stay, and learn their stories. Homelessness is something that everyone in Columbia can relate too, because we witness it in some way almost every day. I’m not sure if that’s exactly the idea I want to go with, but it’s an idea!