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Finding the Picture with Brooks Jensen

Finding the Empathy

This is from my most recent trip to China — the Anchang Village, famous for its open air market with every kind of roasted and smoked meats you can imagine. I was instantly mesmerised by the rows and rows of geese, ducks, pigs, fish, and eels, all dried and cured and (I confess) quite tasty.

I like this image. I like all of the images from the Anchang Village. That said however, they all strike me in retrospect as somewhat emotionally distant. Perhaps that was my reaction to the place, almost a sense of shock at the overwhelming displays. I photographed objects, not formerly living creatures.

But the more time I spent wandering and photographing, the more the reality of what I was seeing seeped into my consciousness. Hundreds and hundreds of geese — just like the ones I marvel at when they fly into the fields near my home. Rows upon rows of ducks that reminded me of the ducks merrily swimming in the lakes and ponds near my home. I understand the reality of the food chain and the fact that all these creatures will provide nutrition to the Chinese people. Nonetheless, I couldn't help developing a sensitivity for the multitudes I was photographing. Eventually, that manifested itself in a few photographs that concentrate on a sense of empathy rather than one of curiosity. Which are the better photographs? I'm not sure, but I do know that in my emotional responses to the photographs, they are as different as can be.

Tech data:

Panasonic G9 using a Panasonic Leica 50-200mm f/2.8-4 lens at 122mm. ISO 400. f/3.7 at 1/250th sec.