Behind this series of photos is a much larger history, one that contains all the greed and cruelty that is contained in us, the human species. They are taken at Auschwitz in Poland, the most recognized of the Nazi death camps with these particular shots from Birkenau shot from the tracks that run through the Death Gate and end at the gas chambers.
As I walked the road lined with guard towers and barbed wire fences, I tried to imagine what the scene would have looked like back when still operational, an impossible task. The only way I assume one could ever really visualize the conditions is to live them and experience the true horror of it to understand what each component meant. There are many other sources that can provide the history, so I will move onto the images themselves.
I remember locations through the lens I shoot and what I found at Auschwitz was that from behind the camera, I was able to filter a lot of the emotional response away by looking for scenes I wanted to capture, to hold on to. While the skies were clear, there was a light fog that lay over the fields and the barrack buildings that still remained, which gave the place a somber, but calm feel, a place to be silent, a place to reflect.
I spent some time watching groups walk through the barracks through the through the wire fences and imagined them to be guards and prisoners in the early morning, before the other hundreds of thousands of those held awoke to another day in human inflicted hell. I wanted to capture a slice of this feeling, a self-imposed memory of a life I never lived of a time I hope no one would ever live again.
The experience of Auschwitz was for me something that will stay with me forever and a trip that I think everyone with the possibility should take, or something similar. Humans are the cruelest of all of life's creation, but at the same time they can be the most loving and compassionate.
As I walked through the tour and heard all the terrible stories, I couldn't help but wonder at what kinds of beautiful stories there may have been running alongside, small acts of love that will remain unknown by all except those who were present, most of which didn't make it out of the concentration camps. We as a species are filled with conflicts between each other and internally with ourselves.
Other than the conversion to black and white and a crop from 4:3 down to 16:9, these are unedited. I have the originals in RAW, but these have been taken from the JPEG version due to me not having any equipment to do the editing on at the time, and no time to edit once I got back home.
The camera used is an Olympus EM-1 and the lens was a 40-150mm. I was also walking with a 12-40mm.
As an amateur photographer, my images are taken just for me, however as I share them here to support my posts, they become part of the public discourse. I think that when it comes to good photography it should be like good art, it should raise some questions and evoke a response from the viewer.
I believe that due to the proliferation of digital photography and sites like Instagram, the scarcity of photography that makes people consider each image has largely been lost and now it is consumed like fast food and barely garners any attention at all. Once upon a time the images we saw were cherished, now there are millions shoved into our eye line daily with most of them having no significance at all, but clutter the space needed to think about the story behind the shot.
A picture only tells a thousand words when the viewer thinks about the story told.
[ an original ]