Overcrowding in the Philippines: At Foto8, a video slideshow of selected pictures by Micha Theiner entitled "A Megacity to Call Home." Manila is one of the world's most populous cities, with 20 million people so far and growing by a quarter of a million more every year. Human overpopulation seems to be the elephant in the room that people just don't like to talk about, even though it lies behind virtually all of the planet's and our species' problems. And anything that's difficult to talk about will also be difficult to show photographs about.
If you haven't noticed, I'm on a bit of a documentary photography kick lately. It's very interesting to me how some ideas lend themselves to good or thought-provoking pictures and other ideas, not so much; some things can be shown directly and other subjects have to be symbolized or implied. It seems to relate to the way that some subjects make for superficially "successful" photographs to the point that they become clichés, and other subjects resist revealing their meaning to the camera's glance.
The picture above looks formally almost pretty—a geometric shape filled with a variegated texture set off with brightly colored accents—until you realize what it is.
Here's Micha's own site.
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Max Pasion: "Many excellent Filipino photojournalists have tackled this subject before. As a Filipino, I am irked when photos by my colleagues back home about the conditions in their own country are overlooked, as it seems to me, in favor of those by Western photographers. I don't blame the latter as they are far more internet-savvy and have better resources and can get more people from around the world to see their images. I wanted to point you to a website or two to back my claim in the first sentence of this comment, but I cannot, which proves what I said in the third. But I know what I'm talking about as I used to shoot for Manila newspapers and have seen plenty of photographs and a number of photoessays on the twin subjects of poverty and overpopulation in my home country. Notwithstanding my sentiments, I will not begrudge Mr. Theiner the 'random excellence' accolade you've handed him as he deserved it."
Mike replies: I sympathize, but it isn't just Filipinos. The phenomenon of outsiders getting more respect than insiders has many dimensions. Sometimes, insiders tell the story with too much nuance, or are "too close to see clearly"; other times, they are directing their work too much at the home audience and not thinking of the curiosity of people in other lands. (Photography is still relatively parochial.) Whatever the specifics, I've seen the general idea play out many times in many ways. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing other photographers' takes on this subject, especially by Filipinos.