I love stories. That’s why I decided to study journalism; it’s a mixture of the art and science of storytelling. So, whenever College Photographer of the Year comes around, I take some time to look through the stories for inspiration.
We’re looking at the best of the best here. Honestly, it’s a little intimidating to know that these are college students, but my jealousy for their talent is matched with admiration and appreciation. I’m glad to see that our generation of journalists has the capability to inspire people with their photography and reporting, and to bring awareness to important issues such as domestic violence, drug addictions, financial instability, and the relationship between them.
One of the stories that really captured me is titled A Portrait of Domestic Violence, by Sara Naomi Lewkowicz. She documents the story of Shane and Maggie, a couple she met at a county fair. I couldn’t believe the access she had to their private relationship, and the trust she gained. One night, she was at their home when Shane became physically abusive with Maggie. She continued photographing during the attack, up until the police came to arrest him. Seeing these photos, so many questions went through my mind!
How could Shane hit maggie with Lewkowicz there watching with her camera? How did she manage to become invisible? Why was her reaction to take photos instead of intervening? Where do you draw the line between observing as a journalist and taking action as a normal human being? Did her presence affect Shane or Maggie’s behavior during the attack? Was there a subconscious motivation of the self-fulfilling prophesy? Did they know Lewkowicz was doing a story about domestic violence, and feel the need to perform for the camera? Was there a moment when Lewkowicz should have left?
Viewing these photos, I felt as if I was looking at stills from a movie. Did Shane and
Maggie really behave naturally, as if there was no one watching them? Did the photographer’s presence possibly establish the sense of a stage on which the couple felt expected to act?
There is an audio interview with Lewkowicz on thestory.org, that provides some insight into the story behind this story. However, some of my questions still remain unanswered. If you’ve read up to this point, I’m curious about what you think! Please, feel free to comment below (or on Facebook).