Thousands of stories of human challenge told through photographs

12 04 2009

Some time ago I happened upon the blog of Zoriah Miller, an independent photojournalist who has captured some extraordinarily powerful images. There’s very little I can say here other than you really must visit his blog, and then his commercial site, to gain a full appreciation of both the quality of his work and the extent to which he’s traveled to the darkest corners of the world to expose the challenges of humanity.

Zoriah’s most recent blog post focuses on HIV/AIDS patients in Asia. The images are jarring. Here are a couple of examples:

Here are some pictures from an April blog post, documenting poverty in Kenya:

I love quality photography, mostly because I know I don’t have the talent to capture images like this. Looking at the image immediately above of the Kenyan girl in the checkered dress, for example, the mastery of the correct focal plane here is just amazing. It’s as if she’s standing inches off the screen.

In the spirit if being balanced, I came to know about Zoriah through a not-so-uplifting debate about some photographs he took and chose to publish of US Marines when he was embedded in Iraq, images which caused a lot of controversy when he broke a covenant with the the Marine Corps. I’m choosing not to address that debate here, but rather to highlight other areas of contribution outside if those incidents. If you want to read the balance of that issue, here is a NY Times account from which you can draw your personal conclusions.

My objective here is to highlight that Zoriah clearly has the talent to generate top dollar taking other types of photographs with much higher general commercial appeal, but he’s chosen to embed himself in armed conflicts, travel to scenes of natural disasters, and document the suffering of famine and disease. It’s clearly not for his benefit that he’s doing this, it’s for ours. Even if the outcome is controversial, we’re always more aware as a result. It helps us all gain a better understanding of scale and pitch in each case. The number of important stories vividly told here is a personal unit of measure that’s significant and inspiring.

To get involved…

In Zoriah’s own words:

“Each photo story that I bring to the world costs literally thousands of dollars to produce. While transportation to and from remote locations eats up the majority of my budget, I must also pay for food, accommodation, insurance and equipment such as body armor, cameras, lenses, photo storage and equipment maintenance costs. These photo stories depend on your support and funding.

Without your donations these projects will live only in my dreams and not in reality, where the world can see them and be affected by them. If you enjoy seeing this work and believe in supporting truly independent photojournalism, please support it.”

You can donate to his efforts by following this link.