Estrin and Harvey on Being Seen

Over at Burn Magazine, two of my favorite people have a long, rambling and slightly bizarre conversation as David Alan Harvey interviews James aestrin from The New York Times.

One of my favorite comments from Estrin:

I believe that, on a personal level – not a professional level as a journalist of the New York Times, but on a personal level – I believe that it is my responsibility living in this world to help repair the world. That is one of the reasons I exist as a human being and that probably plays into some of the decision making, obviously within journalistically appropriate ways. And let’s face it, for most documentary or photojournalists… it’s a large reason why people do it. There is this beautiful, maybe naïve, but beautiful belief that it is important what we do. I believe also, separate from photography, that any action, any single action can theoretically change the world. You don’t know which action it is. It may not be the big action, but I think it is possible to do that.

What I find a little odd is both Harvey and Estrin are mildly dismissive of the early work they did at smaller publications, publications where they both claim they weren't, “being seen.” I think, given the more intense nature of the audience in smaller markets you probably get seen more and your work has far more impact on the day-to-day lives of those viewers.

At least, that was my experience – the work I did at smaller papers had a bigger impact on those communities than the work I did for wire services and magazines. I could see the effect of my work through changes in those communities.