Boston.com’s ‘The Big Picture’ is a thing of wonder.¬† Alan Taylor, who edits it, has both an eye and a heart for the world.

I’ve just stumbled across a particularly powerful gallery on the website of the work of Finbarr O’Reilly.

Not too long back I raved about an audio slideshow by Finbarr about the Congo which I thought was a really important piece of journalism.

What I admire about his work is that he doesn’t get between the viewer and the person whose picture he’s taking.¬† That’s exactly how I like to record audio, no distractions, no noise.¬† It’s a practice that few photographers, even those covering conflict, seem to follow anymore. I guess that’s why I enjoy working with David White so much because he thinks the same way.

You see if I’m looking at a photo and thinking wow that must be a photo by such and such a (famous) photographer,¬† they’ve succeeded in getting themselves noticed but probably failed in telling the story of the person they’re shooting.

I can’t understand how people can do that, put style over substance,¬† their invisible ego in the photo overshadowing the visible subject.

You can just tell who cares.

Funnily enough this was spelled out to me yesterday when I spent some time on MSF’s really interesting photo blog.¬† Too many of the photos tell you more about the photographer then the people in the shots.¬† Some of pictures made me feel angry and then sad. I guess journalists like that are so ill at ease in their surroundings that they fall back on style, they’re just too frightened to actually have a conversation with their surroundings.

Finbarr’s pictures remind me of the Africa I know. Color and smiling faces and suffering, dignity and pain, children, weapons, funerals, blaggers, hustle, fear and forgetting.¬† None of the black and white stuff; this is life and despite the terrible circumstances the people in these photos are living.

Take the photo beneath. Finbarr could have photoshopped it black and white, really dark, waited for a moment of pain, snap, bang, something to shock us.  Instead he did something much more powerful then shock.

He moved me with a smile.


  • Damn those pictures are powerful. Beautiful, poignant, sad. I urge everyone to go and look at the set.
    Finbarr is shouting in his own quiet way.

duckrabbit is a production company formed by radio producer/journalist Benjamin Chesterton and photographer David White. We specialize in digital storytelling.

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