Can a photograph provoke a change – yes absolutely. Like any other media, something in a photograph can trigger a change. It depends on the subject, the timing and what we see in the photograph – that “something” that will drive the change.
Photograph can definitely provoke a reaction and the type of reaction will depend on the “shock” level of the material and on the aesthetic lingua of the photograph.
I consider myself a largely sensitive person and have a difficulty seeing images that show horrific details that clearly show the subject in distress. These images scare me and I would not be a great photographer journalist in such situations. Yet, these are the photographs that stay in my mind for a long time and over time provoke a reaction or rather a chain of reactions, depending on my state of mind and the details of the photograph.
I remember visiting New York City in the late nineties and snapping photographs of our family with the Twin Towers in the background. How fascinating our trip was. First visit to New York. We were thrilled. That old photograph held so many memories.
When 9/11 happened, the images from that horrific event, brought back memories from that trip. They also triggered a thought that never entered my mind before. This could have happened when we were there. We could have been the victims. We could have been the witnesses. We could have been next to these people in the photographs from 9/11.
Photographs have an incredible power to influence the viewer and to provoke change. Change of behaviour, change of thinking, even change of belief. They all speak differently to each of us and they can make us do something about the situation or a subject in distress we witness.
9/11 is in the past, yet these photographs bring reminders to us about the possibility of something awful to happen, and they also bring us the thoughts of hope, change for better, working cohesively and standing up for our beliefs, protecting each other.
It is incredible how in the light of danger, strangers look after each other. How we humans, forget about everyday petty little things and pull ourselves to save, protect, rescue and we are not looking for rewards. We do it because we want to. Some individuals looking at photographs, feel the same. They don’t have to be in the actual place at the time when the photograph was made. The photograph takes them there and triggers their course of action.