1) Christmas Factory by: Ronghui Jen (China)
This photo was very moving and sad. The subject of this photo is a man who is working at a labor factory in China. He is wearing a hat and a mask in order to not be exposed to the toxic chemicals and diseases that are in this factory. The man is wearing a hat that symbolizes a holiday that is supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year, however this has no meaning to the man. He is suffering and risking his life in order to manufacture a product for someone more fortunate then he. The photo has a red glow, which gives it an ominous and almost scary feeling. We fear and worry for this man, not knowing what will happen to him. The unpleasant red colour is contrasted with the more pleasant red on his Christmas hat. He is ironically wearing something very joyful while in one of the least joyful places of all.
2) Act of Forgiveness by: Arash Khamooshi (Iran)
This is a wonderful picture. Looking at it through a Western perspective gives us a different impression of what this story is trying to tell. While one might look at this picture and see the woman as enraged and almost joyful at hurting the person being executed, it is really the opposite. She is saving him. This man has murdered her son and so she is slapping him. While one not accustomed to this culture might think she is doing this out of anger and spite, her slap saved this man from execution. It is incredible to find someone with so much forgiveness in her heart to be able to spare the life of someone who caused her so much pain. As a mother, she probably wanted to save his family from the grief that she encountered. The photo is dark and dreary, with everyone in it wearing black. This is suiting because this is a sad occasion. The only not solemn face in the picture is the mother, probably because she knows that she is doing a great thing by not letting this man die.
3) Istanbul Protest, by Bulent Kilic
This photo is striking because you instantly feel sympathy for this girl, without even knowing her story. You know that she is very disoriented, confused, and scared. You see that she is covered in water which makes you wonder if she’ll survive. Seeing her surrounded by police officers who are much larger then her makes you worry even more for her safety, knowing that the people who are supposed to protecting her aren’t doing their job properly. It turns out that this girl was involved in a protest. The protest was concerning a young boy who died because of government officials. It is a bit ironic to see the people we are supposed to look up to and feel safe with have harmed an innocent boy, and are now attacking an innocent girl. Even though the girl is wearing a bright green shirt, the brightness has dimmed in the picture, because this is a very scary and dark situation. We feel a sense of guilt looking at this picture, because the girl is looking at us and asking for help, and we are unable to offer it.
4) Jon and Alex by Mads Nissen
The dark room, closed blinds, and worried expressions in this picture give the impression that the two subjects are hiding something. That’s because they are. This photo was taken in Russia, where homosexuality is illegal. The goal of this photo is clearly to make a statement, and to show how loving and normal these two look. They are clearly very intimate with each other, as we can see by how close their bodies are, and we can see by how one looks at the other that they are very much in love. This photo was important but very risky. It was important to show that homosexuality is no more different then heterosexuality, and that the love between two men is as valid as between a man and a woman. However, this picture was extremely risky. The subjects, and potentially the photographer, risked being imprisoned or maybe even death by revealing their relationship and exposing themselves to this kind of scrutiny. However, I suspect they believe that the risk was worth it, because they were telling a story that was very much worth telling.