If I’m a photographer working in Africa, I’m going look for the most mind blowing and disturbing images I can capture. That’s my purpose. I gather pictures of starvation, disease, filthy hospitals, rebels with guns, dictators with gold plated vehicles and children with distended bellies and flies on their faces.
I will use these photos to expose the plight of Africa and advocate my cause. More tragedy results in more donor funds. Let’s face it; the race for donor funds is quite competitive in the midst of a recession in the US. If I want my pictures to do any good, they better capture the worst and most compelling images I can find.
We’re living in a time where the media is constantly pushing the envelope with new levels of violence and tragedy. It’s become a competition of sorts. Whoever is more shocking wins, and it takes a lot to shock society these days. We see a similar dynamic affecting the humanitarian world.
But what if the most beautiful images won? What if the media depicted Africa the way they do Australia or the United States; as a destination for beauty, adventure and rich culture? How would that change the world’s view of Africa? How might this effect the number of tourists and investors coming to Africa?
This is obviously a bit idealistic, but why not? At some point, the beauty of Africa has to be more attractive and compelling than its demise. It’s time for a paradigm shift in how we represent the Mother Land.