Photojournalism is a multifaceted sub-genre of photography and one that requires an ethical process and practice. Even in cases where the subject is aware of being photographed, it is necessary to discuss the limits of recognition they are comfortable with. For instance, with a sensitive witness testimony, where the subject prefers to remain anonymous, it is still necessary to have photography to support the written narrative. In these cases, the photographer must look for inventive ways to communicate a visual story because he or she is sent to the field for this very reason.
The easiest go-to would be to shoot the subject in darkness or cover their faces, but this does not provide context as we could photograph any person. So, to be specific to the subject and story, it is important to provide additional context by way of capturing environmental portraits. Essentially, subjects can be shot in shadow or silhouette, provided that the image is wider than a close-up portrait. Take you subjects into the towns, buildings or other spaces that are related to the story or have them engaged in a specific task that will bring the photograph to life and provide the viewer with a realistic image of the narrative,
The following series presented does just that. The women captured in this photo series provided anonymous testimonies in the aftermath of Sri Lanka’s 30 year war. It was necessary to be able to visually depict their stories while retaining their anonymity. Use these as examples the next time you are in the field and need to create photo stories sans a recognizable subject.
Words & Photographs by Natalie Soysa