© Phil Borges from “Tibetan Portrait: The Power of Compassion, about the endangered people of Tibet”
I was inspired by Irving Penn’s classic portraits of native people, taken in front of seamless backgrounds. Although I usually include the background, it’s always secondary. These pictures are portraits of individuals, not representatives of some exotic group.- Phil Borges
One of the most fascinating aspects of photography is the transfer of a message, the opening of a communication path between the artist and the viewer. This is what I call the intent and the purpose of a photograph. Sometimes the message is clear, sometimes it is not and sometimes the interpretation can be different and perhaps even more exciting that the original intent of the image.
Humanitarian photographers always have a clear purpose and intend with their work: to influence people, societies and cultures. But even when their images are quite persuasive, they become inspiring when you listen to the story of the image, the purpose and the intent, as explained by the artist.
I make this statement because I wanted to point you to a talk (video) by one of the greatest humanitarian photographers today: Phil Borges. At the amazing TED conference in 2006, he described some of the images of a body or work that defined his career: photographs of Tibetans who fled to Nepal, including the Dalai Lama. Even when I am sure that you have seen the images before, listening to the story will probably increase your appreciation of them.
Other inspirational humanitarian projects by Phil Borges include “Enduring Spirit” for Amnesty International, “The Gift”, documenting dental, cliff lip and burn marks surgery for underprivileged children done by volunteer American doctors and recently the fantastic “Women Empower” with the non-governmental organization CARE, as part of a tribute to the impact of women in societies and the role they play to lead their families out of poverty into a prosperous future. In commemoration of the International Women’s Day, March 8th, Phil Borges presented the story of Abay, a young woman who transformed her community with CARE’s support.
You can see more images of Phil Borges at the masters of fine art website. The best way to understand Phil’s purpose if to read his mission statement. He will be teaching a workshop this coming June at the Julia Dean Workshops in souther California, USA.
Congratulations Phil, thank you Phil, for your impact.