Do or Don't / by John Javellana

Photographing people in desolate situations could invoke a diverging emotion within one’s self. I took this photo of Gael, 10 years of age, as I was looking for a photo of daily life for work. He was scavenging the polluted shores of Manila Bay for plastic recyclables to be sold. I was really disheartened as I followed him wading through all the garbage on his bare feet. A child this young should be studying; or even just be playing instead of risking his health and safety to earn cash.

Yes, a lot told me that it was a nice photo. But it should be more than that. Taking photos of people in such conditions and showing it to the world could sound very cold; heartless even. But personally I felt that these realities, coated with all the harshness, should be seen. A lot would argue with me on this one but at the end of the day it all boils down to the subject. I never took this with a prize or acclaim in mind. I took this because it evoked certain feelings and realizations of how unforgiving life is for a lot of people. And that I intend to share.

It is a constant dissenting stand that photographers around the world face in my own opinion. Photographers are the eyes of a lot of people whether it is life’s most beautiful moments, down to the worst things mankind could ever see. I do believe that these images are to be shared, not just as a pretty photograph, but with the essence of the subjects that come along with it.