Reflecting on my time at PhotoVoice, I struggle to find a way to meaningfully summarise eight years of such diverse projects. As well as a raft of powerful projects in the UK, my work has taken me to 15 countries across every continent, working with a range of inspiring organisations and across a huge variety of social issues.
Despairing of how to provide a personal view of the past 8 years without trivialising powerful stories that should be seen in the context of their project and campaign, I remembered that a selection of photos does just that – collated gradually for my own enjoyment since starting with PhotoVoice back in 2006.
As a cat lover, I have been fascinated by the way cats have appeared in photo stories across all the countries and continents in which we have worked, meaning different things to different people and revealing differences in lifestyle, environment and attitude along the way. I feel it gives a hint of the diversity of voices and experiences that our projects have amplified, while also showing how photographs can create a bridge between people and cultures that would otherwise seem to be divided by such extreme differences.
AsI know that one of our new Projects Managers is more dog lover than cat lover, it is worth noting that the same could easily be done with our canine friends.
I leave PhotoVoice still holding a passionate believe in the importance of its work. Images are more a part of our culture than ever before, and those with the power to create and curate the images that shape our view of the world outside our own experience have more power over social attitudes than ever before. We need alternative stories to add depth to mainstream narratives, and where necessary challenge them, so that the most powerful or popular perspectives do not drown out those who think differently or see a different side to the story.
Good luck to the dynamic team at PhotoVoice – I will follow the exciting years ahead with interest, and will be sure to carry lessons from my time at this amazing organisation into everything I do in the future.