If you’re a film photographer who shoots documentary photographs in the U.S, I want you.
Roy Stryker created the FSA photography collection to document real life in America during the Depression Era.
He was brilliant. He created a resource with a goal of ‘Showing America to Americans’. And the photographs changed the way people perceived folks in the rural areas, suffering in the dust bowl, living in poverty, etc.
I want to do the same, only show the life of American people today. I want to use only film documentary photographers, so that I can be assured that the photographs in the collection are authentic, and not photoshopped. And also to avoid the glut of submissions from phone snappers.
The goal would be for film photographers to contribute to the collection, build it out to represent American life–the most ordinary and extraordinary parts of life here in the U.S.–in all 50 states.
We live in a time where we label people liberal or conservative, 1% or 99%er. What are we really? Do we even know? Is the Facebook picture our best side forward only and not even true? Perhaps we’re not seeing the real America?
Certainly what’s on the national news isn’t who we are.
One commenter on the project said: I live in Germany and hardly can give any contribution though I would like to. But you’re completely right with the “stereotypes”. We in Germany now have a “special” picture of the Americans – created by media of any kind. When I was in the US, it’s a complete different view and people are people, struggling with everyday life. Vice versa, some became very surprised when I told them I am German. They didn’t think one could talk “normal” with me.
If we had an accurate look of what our family or neighbors with opioid addiction looks like (maybe they look like us), or back from war with PTSD, or with a successful new business, or how they are training for the Olympics, or how they get by with three jobs so they don’t go to bed hungry–all kinds of real stories, positive and negative–could we impact Americans?
‘Showing America to Americans’!
The news and the political climate make it seem like liberals and conservatives are worlds apart. But do we even know each other? Or are we just going off the stereotypes in our heads?
Please take a look at the site I built with more information, and I’m certainly still in the ‘seeing if it’s viable’ stage of the project and it may have elements to address I haven’t thought of yet. It’s at RoyStryker.com – Yes, I named it after him as a tribute. There’s a lot of information on there, and I tried to answer the most pressing questions.
There would be a curation of the images–not just all images would be accepted.
There would be invites based on the photographer’s ability and quality of work to become part of the collective of photographers contributing to the collection.
The form for submission requires a high-res photo as well as a low-res image of the neg/slide for authenticity purposes. And it suggests an optional donation–see if that seems reasonable.
I would like to ultimately make the photographs:
1) on display on the Web site.
2) available for sale to publications–the photographer maintains all rights to their images at all times and would negotiate directly with the publications.
3) for a book project if the photographers would allow their photographs used.
4) eventually, if the photographers are willing, to offer the collection to the Library of Congress if we have created something exceptional.
Perhaps documenting life today could have an impact like the FSA project had on people’s perceptions of the folks during the depression.