Post by: Ryan Humm, Director / Cinematographer / Read Asia Advocate
When I travel to a new environment for film and photography work, I get aesthetically inspired. Architecture, markets, landscapes, and colors all bring a new challenge and a new way to capture an image. But I have learned that what truly inspires me is photographing and filming people.
A few months ago, I was hired to film general b-roll footage in Nashville. The client wanted shots of buildings, city centers, nightlife, and parks. For the first time in years I was unsure of myself; I wasn’t filming people. I realized during this job that my passion and inspiration for capturing images comes from from faces, from laughter, from transparency, and from suffering.
Recently, I traveled to southern India with Read Asia. The population, the income disparity, and the religious tension were so vastly different than anywhere I have ever traveled before. I have seen and experienced abject poverty in multiple countries, but I’d never seen slums next to Google or Oracle office buildings. I thought I was there to tell a visual story of literacy, but really, I learned that the story of literacy is the story of empowerment. Literacy transforms every aspect of life. Street signs mean something, prices at the market mean something, ideas on paper mean something, a love letter means something, the letters H-I-V mean something. Literacy is a cure for cognitive blindness and I was able to see and capture that beautiful transformation.
This is the story I love to tell and the reason I travel all over the world to tell it. Regardless of the country or the project or the client, it’s the same story. It’s a poetic combination of suffering, healing, forgiveness, justice and community. I need to continually remind myself that my film and photography work probably won’t directly affect the person in front of my camera. Because I am not their savior or their caretaker. But my work can provide exponential opportunities for others in their shoes. My job is to tell the stories of dreams that we all have. Not just those dreams of people in developing nations who long to be literate, but for people thousands of miles away with resources to dream about how they can bring change to an individual, tribe, city or nation.