Which photo?

Africa, Documentary, Leprosy

Sometimes it can be difficult to choose between two images that in most ways are very similar. I’m currently having such a dilemma.

These two are of a man who’s living in Enyindakrom, a community in Ankaful, Ghana that used to be and in many ways still is, a leprosy community. All of it’s inhabitants either used to have leprosy or are related to people who used to have leprosy. The story (part of my Leprosy Eliminated? and other stories project) is very much a positive one – there is no stigma against them or the community any more and though there is still a great amount of physical impairment (some might say disability) there is a great amount of dignity still.

The following photograph I feel, sums this up quite well:

First photo

The next photograph was taken seconds later, but I simply stood up:

Second photo

Many of the details that convey information are present in both photographs – the fact he had a leg amputated, his lack of fingers and toes, a problem with his eye/eyes, the presence of the wheelchair, the bare bed and poor room, even the small white cross hanging off his bed.

Personally, I like the composition on both of them, though perhaps I like the second slightly more. If it’s supposed to be a photograph showing dignity in the face of the situation then I think the first is the best candidate. It works well with the story of the community.

However, individually the man, whose name is John, really can do very little and needs constant care from his friends and financial help and donations, usually from the local missionary nuns. Whenever I went to see him he was on his porch, or just outside his house and always seemed to be alone, waiting. In that respect, from the two weeks I lived next to the community, I feel that second photo sums him more.

So which photo should I choose? Well I haven’t decided yet. If you have any thoughts on the matter, then please comment below. Otherwise you’ll see the final result when you click on ‘Ghana’ on the website.

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9 thoughts on “Which photo?

  1. The first one, if it’s about dignity. The second one makes him look weak, diminished, it’s almost takes away that dignity, although I agree with Misha it has more layers. But I think the face of this man tells a more powerful story here.

  2. I think the first shows more dignity. In the second, he seems more vulnerable, but we are also looking down on him.

  3. Tough decision. The second picture seems to paint the limitations of his universe very well, whereas I think the first picture is a stronger portrait composition – with the angle of his arms and one leg leading your eye to his face. His stare challenges you to take a moment to consider his plight, his condition and who he might be. The general composition of the second pic is probably superior to the first shot, but there’s nothing stronger than someone looking right at you.

  4. The purpose of a photograph is to tell a story, to cause an emotional response. While both photos leave you with both, I personally find the first one most powerful. The subject in the portrait shows that he is facing leprosy head on, face to face. Few people realize this is a very real and devastating disease. I would venture to say that many believe that leprosy is little more than a disease that only exists in the Bible, and fewer still think of it as being REAL. There is dignity in being eye level with someone suffering such a disease which leaves them abandoned from their society. While this particular subject would not feel he was being looked down upon because of his condition, it would be a disgrace for a viewer to think so. Beautiful photography. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I like the first one – it clearly shows who he is, what his life is, straight on. The second one leaves him too far away.

  6. I prefer the second picture because it shows every fact of the man disabiliy. That is being unable to lay his bed as well as his limited movement. The second picture shows how poor n empty his room is n how toilsome the man lives. As compare to the first one which only shows the wheelchairs n himself. What I do not like from the first picture is his hand hidding his missing toes which is to be seen also to show the real suffering of the man.

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