A photo-journalist / wild life photographers’ lack of attachment at critical juncture has always intrigued me. But lately, it has been troubling me a lot.
Case 1: Many a award winning photographers / journalists, especially in civil war torn hotspots in Africa have taken stunning & tragic photographs of human suffering. As with most photographs, these snaps have a story to tell. The viewer understands the past and present situation revolving the photograph. Often, I have seen, the photographer in his quest of being objective represents the truth in its starkest form. Many a times, the photographer, though being in a vantage position to help positively, mutates into a mute and attentive documentarians of the scene around him.
Case 2: Tigers are mostly solitary animals; especially the alpha males. It’s a well documented fact, at times; dominant males would kill male cubs to pre-emptively tilt the balance towards them. This incident was most brutally documented in a series by a renowned Tiger conservationist.
A similar situation arose with a pride of lions in Africa. Two cheetah cubs were finished off by a lioness that was expanding her pride's territory. This incident was also documented and shown on a TV program.
My question is this:
I do accept the cardinal rule of the photographer being “there” and yet NOT being “there” and to be as unobtrusive as possible. And please do not think that when I say lack of attachment I implicitly mean a lack of empathy.
I also understand that the jungle has its own rules; that perhaps its Darwin’s law of evolution taking its course and that is nature's way of ensuring that the fittest survive.
Now lets’ pause for a moment. Here we are taking about nearly endangered species! The cheetah and for that matter the Royal Bengal Tiger have low birth rates and statistically their young ones have an uphill task to reach maturity!
Hence, when we, the photographers, TV documentarians are cognizant of the significance of the situation, why we can't be “positively obtrusive"? Is it asking for too much to lend a helping hand to save an extremely precious & endangered life?