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Focus on the Story: How Photography Shapes Our Understanding of the Human Condition

October 23, 2018

James Whitlow Delano, Photographer
Tanvi Nagpal, Director of the International Development Program at Johns Hopkins SAIS
Moderated by Shamila N. Chaudhary, Fellow at the Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute 

SAIS Perspectives, the International Development program’s student-run publication, recently partnered with the Dean’s Forum, the Big Picture initiative and Focus on the Story to host an event at the school about how photography can influence perceptions of poverty and impact policy.

The winner of the 2018 SAIS Perspectives photo contest, Rory O’Connor, discussed his winning photograph, a picture he took during his deployment to Afghanistan in 2017. He retold the story of how the composition of the photo unfolded: the image features a local Afghan man herding his goats around a large armored vehicle. After seeing that O’Connor only had a camera and was not armed, the man put his hand to his heart and made a slight bow in his direction, to which O’Connor returned in kind and snapped a photo.

Award-winning photojournalist James Whitlow Delano presented some of his latest work, photographs that capture the devastating effects of President Duterte’s war on drugs in the Philippines. He presented a number of photos that depict death, violence and the lasting emotional damage to the deceased’s families.  

Following his presentation, Delano joined the school's director of International Development, Tanvi Nagpal, for a discussion about the impact photography and photojournalism can have. Moderated by Foreign Policy Institute Fellow Shamila Chaudhary, the panel addressed the big picture about poverty and the drug war in the Philippines and the efforts of photographers to document the scenes.

The event concluded with questions from the audience about media freedom and the merits of documentary films versus photography essays.

Photo album