Sunday, 19 June 2011

Alissa Everett: Pop Photo's Interview

Photo © Alissa Everett-Courtesy of PopPhoto

Alissa Everett is a documentary photographer and writer based in New York City. She covered the first 9 months of the Iraq war, and subsequently photographed and written stories throughout the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. She also co-founded a non-profit organization called Care Through Action aimed at helping victims of human rights abuses. Her clients include The Sunday Times, the Economist, NBC Dateline News, AP and others.

Alissa recently had an interview with PopPhoto magazine...which at first I thought was rather incongruous, since she was a photojournalist, and photojournalists don't usually appear on its pages, but then I read on and realized she had made travel photography (with presumably a documentary twist) on her return from the Middle East in 2005.
"The areas that tend to be more difficult to photograph are areas that are heavily touristed. People get this feeling of tourists coming and sticking cameras in peoples' faces without asking permission. That tends to make people more hesitant."
Alissa is right when she says that, and also right when she to wanting to make a connection with her subjects before making a photograph of them. It's a matter of respect, and engendering trust.

I have seen many photographers (certainly not as experienced and culturally-sensitive as Alissa) who make no effort in connecting with people...just gawk at them, and snap their pictures...and frequently give them money. Others seem unable to connect...and incapable of treating their intended subjects as persons, rather than objects.

From what I've seen of Alissa's work and from following her Tweets, I'm glad she decided to make travel photography her new focus.