An extraordinary book was just published, called 2020 Unmasked. It represents the efforts of three photographers: Robin Fader, Susan Baggett and Victor Mirontschuk. The work is edited by photographer Ari Espay who is possessed of great sympathy and insight for the human condition. In its pages are the turmoil, despair, isolation, fury, and emotions of the year 2020. It shows the confused swirl of humanity, conflicted and fearful, but also courageous of heart and generous of spirit.
I was honored to write the forward.
This book is a book you will keep, an account of times and conditions we never anticipated. Needed and necessary, timely, and to the point. A collaboration of hearts, minds, and cameras, driven by perceptive and sympathetic eyes. Our world was stunned, dazed, confused and fearful. Thankfully these photographers weren’t.
I know Robin, Susan and Victor from being with them on numerous photo workshops, and teaching them alongside Ari. This workshop series is run by Liza Politi and Ari Espay and called Fancy Girl, Street Boy Productions. Liza runs the entire enterprise with consistent clarity and excellence. There’s an extraordinary group of photographers who rally around these workshops, and they’ve really become family over time. Watching wonderful photographer friends who return workshop after workshop, and how their skills grow over time is one of the true rewards of being a teacher.
And photo education is important always, if you keep picking up a camera. There’s lots of picture instruction out there, milling about. Lots of people showing how to adjust a slider, how to read a histogram, and where to put the light.
But no one can really tell you where to put the camera. That’s on you, the photographer. And these photographers put themselves, and their cameras, out there in the world, often at great risk, to witness. At the end of the day, that’s what photographers do. No matter if the weather is bad or good, or the situation is lovely or horrible, we go. We go and see. What is the story, where does it lead?
Another excellent thing about this book. All (as in all) the proceeds go to to help fund Statement Arts, a non-profit run by Liza and Ari, which is dedicated to getting disenfranchised young people, incandescent in their talents, into college and onto a larger stage.
Quoting again from the book forward:
The best pictures come from the heart. They spring from feelings, deep rumblings in the human spirit, long held convictions, and the desperate need to see, to witness. Framing the world with a camera and providing context and coherence has always been a messy, uncertain process, perhaps now, more than ever. The motivation to take camera in hand in these days is a fraught one, given the conflicting currents we are all beset by. Where is the truth? Where do you find resonance and meaning, powerful enough to pursue, at great risk, and then have the presence to freeze it, frame it, print it, and pass it on?
It is no simple task, even in the best of times.