Everyone had Cameras

April 20th, 2012

In the critical essay “Everyone had cameras: photographers and the farm worker experience in California- a photographic essay” by Richard Steven Street speaks of the importance and impact film has had on the farm worker experience in California.  Cameras and film capture the struggle of the farm workers and their non-violent protests, marches, fasts and arrests.  Film is the best evidence for creating an impact on issues involving the human condition.  In the following passage Street discusses the photographer who waits for a critical moment:


The photographers who have worked among California farmworkers have been called the eyes of conscience, but they have also been called propagandists for hire. They have recorded life and labor in the fields, even while obscuring its harsh realities. They have probed the human condition and glorified an industry, captured tenacity, generosity, and dignity, and also recorded suffering, injustice, and violent class warfare.


Street brings focus to the importance of the photographers.  A picture says a thousand words and the photographers are usually on the front line willing to capture a moment to show the human condition.  They witness first hand and capture inspiring moments as well as moments of injustice.  The farm worker experience in California is gruesome and photography captures these moments so that the public is aware of the dark side.  But at the same time photography captures beautiful moments as well.  A freelance photographer by the name of John Krouns says that “Cesar Chavez really knew the value of photography”.  Krouns states that everyone had cameras and Chavez considered how everything would look on film.  The use of film is used to shape the visual to their advantage during the strike.  In Cesare Chavez’s “What is Democracy?”, Chavez discusses the involvement of people to achieve democracy.  Chavez states that “participation in the democratic process is a key strategy in nonviolent struggle”.  Hence, the reason Chavez appreciates and understands the value that comes with photography.  It exposes and is a part of the democratic process as well.


Street, Richard Steven. “Everyone had cameras: photographers, photography and the farmworker experience in California–a photographic essay.” California History 83.2 (2005): 8+. Academic OneFile. Web. 20 Apr. 2012.

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