Photographer Eugene Richards is at the Missouri School of Journalism today. He’s a recipient of a 2014 Honor Medal from the J-School.
Richards has been speaking in classes today about his work and how he does it. If you don’t know his work, it’s often very gritty. He’s photographed poverty, racial injustice, drug culture, emergency room doctors and nurses, impoverished mental patients around the world and veterans and families of the Iraq War. He’s also photographed some beautiful things, like a LIFE essay on a couple having a child. Look at his work and you see someone who gets physically and emotionally close to his subjects. It’s not documenting. It’s more of an emotional introduction to the person in the frame.
During question and answer sessions Richards talked about pictures and their place in the world. He knows the public is inundated with images on a daily basis. Pictures of Ebola patients and doctors in Africa might not resonate with everyone, but we still have to take them so people have the opportunity to see what’s going on and what requires a response. He also recognizes photographs have power but not on their own. A photograph by itself doesn’t change anything, but a photograph in the right environment can be a catalyst for change.
Richards was asked how he continues to do the work he does. It takes a lot to see the things he’s seen and to see them continually through different projects. His response? It’s the job. You do it because that’s what you do.
Persistence, and vision.
Congratulations to Mr. Richards on his latest recognition, and thanks for sharing with us today.