The life of a photographer is not always as glamorous as most people think, especially being a “people” photographer like me, where my true passion lies with shooting real life to inspire real change.
Real Life. Real Change.
The work that I have been doing that pertains to my three main photographic projects (Woman, Di-vur’si-te and Animal Life) has taken me on a crazy journey. There is the celebratory side of each project where I have met great people, doing or accomplishing pretty cool things. It’s fun, it’s interesting, it’s happy. Then there is the “flip side” of each project; the violence, the discrimination, and the inhumanity. It’s not glamorous, it’s sad. It’s mind boggling. It’s emotionally overwhelming.
As I photographically covered social issues such as human trafficking, residential schools, animal captivity and abuse, human rights and anti-racist protests, I grew more and more introspective about the human condition. As I looked into the eyes of a woman who endured being a sex slave, an 82 year old Indigenous man who had his culture stripped from him, as a child, the black man that lived in fear, the pig going into the slaughterhouse, the transgender man standing strong and bold, and the woman hidden behind a burqa – I changed within.
It is said a photograph is worth a thousand words, but what about what the photographer experiences behind the lens of taking that photograph? Clee Life is about just that; it is about my emotions, my reflections and the way my soul has profoundly changed from my photography. Clee Life is the story behind the photograph; from what I experienced and from my perspective.
Some people, even other photographers question if a photograph can evoke change. My mindset has always been that meaningful photography is powerful, that is why I do what I do. For me, it isn’t about changing the world but changing one viewer’s mind at a time. People have told me that my photography has touched them in a way that they changed how they think or act about the subject matter. That is a powerful compliment. So yes, a photograph can evoke change, just as my work has evoked the change in me.