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I encountered the photographic work of Gary Smith Some years ago through our mutual interest in Favela Rocinha. Since then my life has been enriched consistently by the candor and humanity of the way he documents the lives of people. And he’s darn good at it. Gary has been behind his lens honing his unique artistic crafts for decades–in public spaces, slums (Gary prefers the term slum for it’s grit and urgency), and war zones–anywhere that might be underrepresented–all over the planet.

Quite often, though, his photos convey the grace and horror and beauty of moments or places that might otherwise escape attention, passed up as unimportant or out of the way. H’s a street photographer through and through. That’s the power of Gary Smith photos. But then again, don’t let me pigeonhole his work before you’ve had a chance to experience it yourself. 

What follows is a small cross section of his work, with his statement on poverty. 

 

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Rocinha, 2011

Rio-Rocinha-DSC_1479

Rocinha, 2012

RioRocinha2011UnderGangControlPhoto11

Rocinha, 2011

RioRocinha2011UnderGangControlPhoto12

Rocinha, 2011

RioRocinha2011UnderGangControlPhoto27

Rocinha, 2011

Rocinha14-3

Rocinha, 2014. Tintled: “Baby Toss on Garbage Day in the Favela”

Rocinha14-10

Rocinha, 2014

 

Goma, The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Goma, The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mugunga Refugee Camp, North Kivu, The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mugunga Refugee Camp, North Kivu, The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mugunga Refugee Camp, North Kivu, The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mugunga Refugee Camp, North Kivu, The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Goma, The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Goma, The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mugunga Refugee Camp, North Kivu, The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mugunga Refugee Camp, North Kivu, The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mugunga Refugee Camp, North Kivu, The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mugunga Refugee Camp, North Kivu, The Democratic Republic of the Congo

 

Wired Rocinha #2 - 2011

Wired Rocinha #2 – 2011

Wired Rocinha 2014

Wired Rocinha 2014

Goma, North Kivu, The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Goma, North Kivu, The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mugunga Refugee Camp and Goma, North Kivu, The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mugunga Refugee Camp and Goma, North Kivu, The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mugunga Refugee Camp and Goma, North Kivu, The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mugunga Refugee Camp and Goma, North Kivu, The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Soweto, South Africa (gang gambling ring playing street craps)

Soweto, South Africa (gang gambling ring playing street craps)

Soweto, South Africa

Soweto, South Africa

 

Old Havana, Cuba

Old Havana, Cuba

Old Havana, Cuba

Old Havana, Cuba

Jatari Campesino, Ecuador

Jatari Campesino, Ecuador

Peshawar, Pakistan

Peshawar, Pakistan

Delhi, India

Delhi, India

Coluna #13 Medellin, Colombia

Coluna #13 Medellin, Colombia

Pakistan/Afghantistan Border

Pakistan/Afghantistan Border

Pakistan/Afghantistan Border

Pakistan/Afghantistan Border

 

Poverty is bad.

It incites corruption, lawlessness and insecurity – – – and exposes the smarmy underbelly of our human dilemma between anarchy and order. It under-educates and over-regulates and under-medicates and over-populates and under-employs and leaves many living shorter and more hopeless lives of predictable squalor.

All this is true. 

Yet given this challenge of poverty and integrating into it the instinctive pursuit for a full life despite the half measure opportunities of an over-populated and under-funded ghetto, it confounds anyone who encounters life in a slum first hand to discover how resilient and adaptive people can become. And when you inspire, educate and enfranchise resilient people rather than isolate and abhor them, you create a space where community springs from squalor and opportunity outdistances fear.

People living in slums need infrastructure and services, and if we obligate ourselves to getting them these irreplaceable notions, the nature of things will take root and economy and security will follow…

 

Gary Mark Smith
Lawrence, Kansas

October 2015

 

To see more visit streetphoto.com

 

One thought on “Gary Smith: Capturing the Life of Human Streets

  1. Pingback: Gary Smith: Capturing the Life of Human Streets | msamba

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