Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Innocent

Captions only tell so much about a photograph. They give us necessary information such as who, what, when, and where, but often times we are unable as photographers to tell the story of what really happened while we were there. What we saw, felt, and understood as we took the picture. The following picture has a story a little deeper that i could put into the caption. It ran on the front page this morning, but without the following information.

The girl in the picture is Sabrina. The person who isnt in the picture is her father. To paint a picture for you, her father was wearing a cutoff t-shirt, jail tatoos, long greasy hair, acted like he was on coke, and talked like his brain had been damaged by too much LSD, he was trash. He was the standing next to the box that was projecting the light show, that Sabrina and a couple thousand other people gathered to watch last night. However, i could tell there was something different with her that set her apart from the children that she was standing next to. They were jumping and laughing with nothing greater on their minds than trying to catch the little beams of light that shot through the air. However, Sabrina stood perfectly still. I moved in and sat infront of her and snapped a few frames, and she didnt seem to notice or if she did she didnt care. I put my camera down and just watched for a minute. I watched her and the kids around her. Within a second or two, her fathers hand shot out from the corner of my eye and he grabbed her on the arm with far too much force. This immediately got my attention. She tried to brush him off, all the while not making a sound. He grabbed her again. This time he forced her to turn around and look at something behind her. He placed his hand on her neck to do this, hard enough to hurt her. She tried to brush him off. It worked this time, and she stood silent and still and tried her hardest not to cry. He continued to grab, squeeze, and yell at her for no reason over the next 10 minutes or so. No matter where she stood, it was wrong, no matter where she looked, it was wrong. He would grab her and move her. He couldnt keep his hands off of her. At one point she stood in front of a bigger boy, leaning back against him, close enough for him to be her big brother, as if he was guarding his little sister. But he wasn't, he was just another kid watching the show. And her father quickly grabbed her away, and held her infront of her. She continually tried to brush him off. I could tell she was terrified of him. The look on her face was not one of anger, like a child who has been punished. It was instead a look of pure disgust. She was trying to look away from her father so he wouldnt see her cry. She stood so still that i was able to shoot this picture at 1/6 of a second. So when i see this picture, i cant help but get the same feeling that i got when i shot it. I cant help but see this girl as anything but purely innocent, and helpless. I dont know if this story adds to the picture, or not. And my writing doesnt do it justice, but the whole night left me with a sick feeling in my stomach. Feel free to leave comments please.

13 comments:

Rush Jagoe said...

If you are ever inclined to give me a print :)

Rush Jagoe said...

i mean, jeeze. i love this.

brYan said...

what a terrible situation she's in. i can't imagine how trapped that little girl must feel. the story completely changes the way the picture makes me feel - from "oh, cool" to "oh, no."

JD said...

It's always so sad when you see this kind of thing. You cannot interfere, but you have to wonder in the back of your mind if you should have.

kohl threlkeld said...

JD-

Thats pretty much how i felt. I felt bad for not doing anything, but at the time it was so subtle that i didnt feel like i would have been justified in my actions. It could have been a dad having a really bad day (he had 2 other kids in a stroller behind him) having to watch all his kids, or there could have been more going on. Either way, he didnt treat her right.

Rush Jagoe said...

I mean, this happens so much. and most people would just shoot it happening. But that is what we all see, i mean, this pictures leaves you with such a sense of abandonment and that feeling is so universal. I really feel like its powerful.

kim jagoe said...

making a phone call to child services is not interfering its saving a childs life. the only way that could interfere is you wont be snapping pictures of her in 10 years smoking crack and selling herself to get it...mentally ill from her young life and homeless. i hope walking away from these situations without at the very least making a call to someone who can help doesnt turn you sad and into stone oneday kim jagoe..rush and i argue this issue weekly please dont hold my voice against him....it DID evoke emotion..BRAVO

kohl threlkeld said...

Kim-

Your opinion is valid, and i dont hold it against Rush, or you. I have to disagree though. At the time, i though my option was to either make a big scene (during the middle of a light show with screaming loud music and thousands of people) or not. I chose not to. I made that decision because I was there and I experienced what happened, and the nature of the conflict lent itself to that action. I did my best to explain what happened in my blog, but i cannot explain every detail. You just had to be there. And you were not. As journalists we are told to remain neutral in situations. Well, thats not always the case. Believe me, i am one of the most compassionate people you will meet, and i would have done something if i felt it necessary. Had the father done anything violent or outright abusive, i would have stood up and done something. Journalistic intergity be damned. Also, the last part of your post seemed sarcastic (about envoking emotion and the BRAVO comment). Not sure how to take this, but it gives me the feeling that you somehow got the impression that i saw this situation and exploited it to make a compelling image. If this is the case your dead wrong. And i take offense to that. When i started photographing the girl, she was just watching the show, then her father stepped in. Again, i appreciate your comments, and im sure that if i could somehow explin in person what it was like to be there, then you might get a better understanding. But its hard over the internet. Also, before you make accusations about how i act as a human and a photojournalist, and where my morals lie, that maybe you ask a few questions first since you dont know me.

Tim Hussin said...

I agree with Kohl entirely, but will add a couple things.

I think you shouldn't demean photojournalists as people who try to exploit those who are an example of human suffering. Sometimes, we do capture stories about people who are down in their lives (drug users, the homeless, etc.). Although these do make compelling photographs, the reason we capture these stories is in an attempt to make those in power and the general public aware of a dire situation in our own society. And although not all stories like this end in helping the individual, the photojournalist has to tell the story with at least the hope that it will bring some help to either the individual or the issue at large. And many stories like this have led to sweeping changes throughout the world.

For example, if the media didn't constantly report on the Iraq war, then the public would know much less about the horror there. Also, bringing an issue like homelessness to the community drives some to want to help the situation, make donations, etc.

I do realize that this would not happen with Kohl's photo because he was covering an event not the life of this little girl. And since the interaction between the girl and her dad could be misinterpreted, it's not Kohl's role to place judgment on the situation when nothing extreme was taking place.

I do appreciate your comment as well, as it does raise an issue that the public has toward many journalists. Kohl, though, is not that journalist.

kim jagoe said...

ok here goes..i thought about this al day while working at the help office. i realized that this picture was more about me and many other young girls who may or may not have been photographed while they or i was in that same situation with thier dad...never the less we were not rescued or helped...no one called or came..so we grow up with these huge holes in our heart..and these pictures open them...so this picture was not about your integrity as a person or a photographer..it was about my pain and how i handle it..so there it is..thats what your picture did..im sorry you took it so personaly...never the less tim all the pictures in the world have not stopped the endless kiliing in iraq it still goes on...and its not a war..its an invasionkj

Rush Jagoe said...

Mom, images from Iraq are censored heavily. I think they covered the rest well. -Rush

kim jagoe said...

but HOW has it changed the horrible course of needless deaths. changed or stopped.i guess george bush is mightier than images of americans and people of iraq dying.

kim jagoe said...

oh yea CLEAN YOUR ROOM !!!