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Hey, I just take the pictures

Christian Sagardia | Thursday, November 2, 2006

When you read the newspaper, do you ever see a photo that sums up the entire news article right then and there? They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and it couldn’t be more true. As a photographer for The Observer, I get a view that most people don’t get: one on the outside looking in. You may wonder, how is that? Aren’t I supposed to be the guy behind the scenes or on the front lines, there when things go down? Indeed, I am there, but with different eyes. Seeing things through the lens of a camera gives one a new view. An editorial or news article can have bias toward one particular side, no matter how “objective” the writing is. A picture, on the other hand, doesn’t really show a bias, because it is what it is. Pictures don’t lie, and the good ones can tell us volumes about an event. Sometimes words fail where only a photo can succeed.

When I go on assignments and shoots, people always ask me how the news article is going to be, or how it’s going to be written. I always reply, “Hey, I just take the pictures.” I’ve thought about that saying, and what it really means. I sometimes feel like I can tell a story through my work. I take pride in my pictures, because it’s a means of communicating with people. I remember one assignment, a recent one, in which I shot some photos for a student theatre production. I had done the shoot several days before the review was going to come out, during a tech rehearsal, and I decided to run one of the photos as a floater on the inside cover of The Observer. The photo was a beautiful photo, with amazing colors and tones (unfortunately, the photo ran in black and white). This single photo convinced several people I know to go see the show, and I’m sure many more enjoyed the photograph. Point is, that image told a story and had a meaning to it that people saw. Needless to say, after hearing the positive feedback, I was proud of my work, of my art.

I admit, my writing skills aren’t the best (this article was proofread several times, natch), so I turn to photography to get information out to the people. My job allows me to express what people can’t with words. It allows me to communicate feelings and emotions. I can evoke a sense of beauty, anger, patriotism, happiness, bliss, sadness, a whole spectrum of sentiments with a simple photograph. It allows me to do all this, with little bias and without being subjective. Being a photographer has given me a new perspective on life. I see things from the outside, as a silent observer.

My job is simple: tell it like it is. Rather than using words, I let my photographs speak for themselves. In the end, they tell it like it is, and they speak the truth.