the camera changed the way we behaved, part 2

A couple weeks ago I wrote about some schoolkids who made cardboard video cameras, and got lost in their world seen through their ‘lenses’. I wrote that photography “is a purposeful action that impacts and often changes both the person who is doing the seeing, and the object that is seen.” This week we had an interesting demonstration of this idea.

Photograph from AP
Photograph from AP

The National Geographic reported that photographs had been taken of one of the last remaining “uncontacted” tribes in the Amazon. My first thought was “Well, they aren’t uncontacted anymore, are they?” The act of taking this photograph, which entailed flying an airplane so low that the tribesmen tried to shoot it down, has irrevocably altered these peoples’ lives, their future, and their understanding of the world. As fascinating as it is for us, I don’t think I could stand that pressure, knowing that my photography had such ramifications. It makes me glad my subjects are dried leaves and bark.

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  1. I just read about this encounter – I can’t remember if it was in last Sunday’s paper or elsewhere. I was sort of surprised that there are a group of people living that have nothing to do with modern society!

  2. I remember a few years ago watching a documentary on the “first contact” with a tribe in Papua New Guinea. It was fascinating, but it felt like a loss. This photo makes me feel the same kind of loss. But as long as these as yet uncontacted tribes can see the sky, then we can’t protect them from us. They’re going to see us and we’re going to see them.

  3. Daniel, I found this photo, and the others in the online article I read both fascinating and disturbing. I really had mixed emotions about it.

  4. I have been groping towards a new direction–after a lifetime of people portraits–and you are helping me to find a new map and a new country. Thank you!

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