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The Social Distancing Festival- An International Platform Of Connection
© jason atkins

photography and human identities

how the camera's gaze is changing

Chiara Maggiore
Chiara Maggiore
+August 29, 2021
Human beings are so diverse and heterogeneous.
We are a wide open ocean, made of thousands of waves, each of them unlike the next.
Everybody has different identities, different bodies, different agendas.
Since photography was magically born, humans are its favourite subjects.

If we look around us, especially at our phone screens, we are overwhelmed by tons of images and photographs showing people. It’s not just advertisements, but all kinds of images. The question is, how has photography has portrayed humans so far? Gender stereotypes, beauty standards and the heterosexual paradigm dictated by society and patriarchy, have limited this representation to a small group of individuals. Women are photographed in a certain way, and so men. What about the others? The gender dichotomy has played a strong role in the construction of the photography’s gaze, dismissing anyone derailing off the track of this system. For ages photography has been used, and it still is, to communicate certain messages and ideology; it’s confined inside a cage, which is hard to take down.
  • Foto Femme united image
  • Foto Femme united image
  • Foto Femme united image
© Jason Atkins
The LGBTQIA+ world and gender non-conforming people have been almost excluded from the photographic scenario for quite a long time. It has been hard to find them, especially within the mainstream media, just with few exceptions. Fortunately, thanks to social media, which gave everyone a small private “stage”, this lack of representation has been slowly filled in.
People who don’t belong to the “binary”, to any gender norms, are gradually finding their space within the photographic media; until, we hope, their presence will be normalized. Social media, such as Instagram or TikTok, have opened up millions of private doors, which were kept closed for too long.
FFU image
© Jason Atkins
This is what Non binary photo projects is based on. It was founded by the non-binary photographer Jason Atkins, who photographed non-binary people across England, Scotland, Wales, Germany and the Netherlands. Atkin’s main goal is not only to create visibility for the non-binary group; they want to help build a stronger community. A physical and virtual space where everybody feels safe and welcomed to share their experiences. They want to encourage more people to open their own door and find their voice.

We are witnessing a very important shift in media representation and photography is changing and evolving accordingly. The camera’s gaze is lingering on new subjects, giving visibility to those who had none. Photography is able to give light where darkness is. The Non binary photo projects highlights the need to keep rethinking and renovating the
way photography portrays humans. Atkins’ images tell genuine stories, the camera is an honest and trustworthy eye. A witness without filters, with a clear and curious sight. No one is overlooked or ruled out.

All humans have the right to be represented and feel acknowledged. As Roland Barthes said, “Every photograph is a certificate of presence”. The camera is an incredible tool, it has the power to establish the existence of a certain reality.

Photography, nowadays, must give its contribution to building a sensitive and
broad-minded community, where everybody is included, no matter their bodies, their gender, their sex.

Photography has got eyes for all of us.
Chiara Maggiore
Chiara Maggiore
articles

Chiara Maggiore is a photographer and a writer from Sicily, Italy. She studies cinema and audiovisua...

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