|Photo: Stephen Shames|
It's forever debated just how much effect "concerned photography" can have on it's subject matter. And it's usually regurgitated with the same arguments, indeed, the same fervor- and the same (non)conclusions. Meanwhile, we all get to go home feeling as if we all accomplished as much as humanly possible under the circumstances, full well knowing all we did was once again absolve ourselves of all possible guilt and responsibility.
This photographer was not satisfied with rationalizations, and realized the need to take it to the next logical, obvious step that is the very purpose of concerned photography, namely- direct involvement. This is a photographer who lived the debate and followed its natural conclusion to achieve what the camera and endless masturbatory chatter alone cannot. Stephen Shames finally realized that at some point he had to put down the camera to personally help those he had so emphatically shown needed it most.
You can read about how he eventually did just that towards the end of this most enlightening interview, and how he came to develop the ability to enter (and eventually touch) the lives of those so outwardly different, who only echoed his own yet to be discovered self.