I've always wondered how documentary photographers and photojournalists are able to capture scenes of war, depression, and hunger because they are so depressing. Yesterday, I got a small taste of capturing and experiencing a depressing scene. It was very different than I initially thought.
It was for an Intermediate Darkroom assignment where I have to take a “Pastoral” landscape. Pastoral as in peaceful, a pastor and his duties, or rustic. At first, I wanted to take photographs at a cemetery where people rest in peace, but that seemed too cliché. So I decided to drive towards the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge to see what I could find. On the way there, I spotted two crosses on the side of the road, where someone had wrecked.
“Perfect” I thought, “it’s a natural landscape with the trees and grass, and it’s a type of grave.” So, without even a thought to how sad the scene was, I got to work. The realization of what had happened, and how sad it was – that someone’s life was suddenly cut off in a tragic accident, that there were people who visited the sight missing this young person – didn't hit me until I was driving back home. I realized that while I was taking pictures, I was in a different mindset. Instead of concentrating on what the things around me meant, I was concentrated on what they looked like in the camera.
Taking photographs of depressing situations is hard, but in a different way. Instead of being difficult while I take photographs, it’s difficult after the fact when I get out of the picture taking mindset and can reflect on what happened.