This documentary immediately hit home for me and I found myself able to really relate to Adams. About 5 years ago I spent 2 weeks in a remote Appalachian town in West Virginia. Although my time spent there was significantly shorter than Adams', my life was still changed forever. I have been lucky enough, and I'm well aware of just how lucky, to grow up financially stable with a complete and loving family. Consequently I also became incredibly sheltered and naive to what life may be like for other people. My trip to West Virginia was the best learning experience I've had, and it completely opened my eyes to the truths of life. Here, in America, there is poverty. It was and still sometimes is such an absurd concept. I was shocked while in West Virginia to learn that we had people living as though they were in a third world country. All I wanted to do was fix it, and bring home with me every child I came to know and love. Knowing this was impossible I vowed to tell the story of my experience, tell THEIR story, so that maybe people would realize what is wrong with our country and do something to change it. That was the only way I knew how to help.
I have always honored documentary photographers, because they too are doing what they can to make a difference, simply by taking photographs. In this movie there was a lot of focus put on whether or not Adams was a true documentary photographer. In my opinion he isn't, although his photographs do accurately portray the people of Appalachia. A true documentary photographer doesn't become a part of the scene, they only capture it. Adams spent a lot of time and energy on creating his images -posing his subjects, setting up the scene, using lights, etc. Yet despite the fact they were manufactured images they still held a lot of truth. Rather than calling them documentary photographs I see them more as environmental portraits and fine art images. I completely disagree with those who oppose his work and claim he is exploiting the people in his photographs. Everyone in his images were willing and delighted to have their photograph taken. I imagine if they felt they were being exploited and insulted they would have let Adams know and not allowed their photo to be taken. Adams was not exploiting but simply showing us the truth, whether it was pretty or not.
5 years ago