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.
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
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