A Photojournalists Perspective

This blog has been authored and submitted by Sue Batton Leonard

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“My photography is committed to the discovery of the basic spirit of human beings in their natural environment and to unrehearsed moments of human expression.” ~ Cherel Ito

A few weeks ago, I was in an art gallery and came across an art book of a photojournalist. The book could be described as a “volume,” it was quite large in size. “That’s some book,” I thought, purely because of its dimensions. Naturally, I wanted to peak between the covers.

I couldn’t believe the similarity between this photojournalist’s work, and that of another.To my way of thinking, Steve McCurry’s images are so stunning similar to that of Cherel Ito’s that it made me wonder whether he studied Cherel’s work intensely before he became a photojournalist. Ito’s work is revered by students of film, art, photography and photojournalism. Her images from the 1960s and 1970s so uniquely tell a story, that her work is featured in the permanent collections at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. http://www.nmwa.org/  

There are two differences I saw between the compositions of these two creative people. Ito used only black and white film, which makes her work more valuable and interesting from the perspective of the historical development of photography and filmmaking. 

Also, when you read her journal entries, you realize she was an outstanding writer as well as a talented photographer. She had the ability to powerfully communicate so much, in so few words; an all encompassing artist. 

If you are not familiar with Cherel Ito’s work, her images and her journal writings have also been preserved for future generations of students of photojournalism in the book “Through the Lens of Her Camera.” Her work is an important study in human nature as well as different cultures around the world. 

To learn more about photographer Cherel Ito and to order her book, please visit this link www.cherelitobook.com.

 

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A Continuing Legacy: Cherel Ito Photojournalist

The historical importance of photojournalist Cherel Ito’s documentary film work has recently been made even more visible at the National Museum of Women in the Arts inWashington,D.C. 

A permanent plaque, outside the entryway to the third floor gallery, has been installed in Cherel’s honor. The glass plaque, etched with the words “In Memoriam Cherel Ito Photojournalist,” has been mounted on the wall with two circular disks and will be viewed by scores of gallery visitors each year. 

 What a beautiful tribute to a woman whose work sits in the permanent collection of the National Museum of Women in the Arts along with distinguished documentary photojournalists Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Nan Goldin, Eudora Welty, Constance Stuart Larabee, Lola Ὰlvarez and others. 

A collection of images by documentary photojournalists has continued to grow since the Museum’s opening in 1987. When looking for prospective artists to add to the museum’s archives, the Works of Art Committee considers how “art works may enhance particular areas of the collection and also how they may help tell story of women artists shaping historical and contemporary art movements,” according to Kathryn Wat, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the NMWA. 

Ito’s photographic image from her American Indian Nation series was featured in NMWA’s 2011 exhibition Trove:The Collection In-Depth.  The untitled black and white photograph of traditionally dressed native American children holding a can of Coca-Cola, is indicative of time-honored garb passed down through generations yet, a touch of modern day culture is captured in the photograph; testimony to Ito’s sharp eye, as a documentary photographer. 

If you get a chance to visit the National Museum of Women in the Arts inWashington,D.C., stop by the third floor gallery and check out the new plaque. Pay homage to one of America’s very finest documentary photojournalists of our time.

This blog brought to you by www.throughthelensofhercamera.com.

 

 

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Written All Over Her Face

People – their faces – a reflection of their soul.” ~ Cherel Ito

 A photograph captures a moment in a life. This one frame begs the question ‘Is this how this woman was feeling only in this very moment or is it a representation of an entire life?” As the viewer can see, cheerless emotion is written all over her face. 

Happy moments are not always seized in photojournalism. Depicted in this photographic portrait is a side of life that is at the polar opposite of a life of pleasure and plenty.  Perhaps it is the very reason Cherel Ito chose to capture this portrait through the lens of her camera. 

It would appear to the viewer the woman was a willing subject. Although guarded to a certain extent by the blanket enclosing her body, it appears she didn’t refuse to have her picture taken. Perhaps both subject and photographer wanted to tell a story that was too difficult to be expressed through words. 

To merge emotion and symbolism into one stunning shot, a photographer needs to have a keen eye and sharp intuition. Photojournalist Cherel Ito was blessed with both. The blanket is symbolic for the emotions the viewer feels for the woman through this image. It makes us, the viewers, want to wrap our loving arms around this woman and give her warmth, safety, shelter and hope. 

For more information on using symbolism in photography, please visit http://bit.ly/pzWgmY

To order an important publication, filled with stunning photos from the collections of one of the most celebrated photojournalists from the 1960s to 1997,  please visit www.cherelito.com or www.throughthelensofhercamera.com.

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Stories Captured Stories Told

Ito’s black-and-white photographs offer a chronicle of one woman’s journey to expand her humanity. … an important contribution to the museum’s growing collection of documentary photography,” said Susan Fisher Sterling, Chief Curator www.nmwa.org.

 

To leaf through Cherel Ito’s book Through the Lens of Her Camera, is to discover that Cherel was the author of her own life, by the places she visited and the sites she saw. One gets the distinct feeling that the self-actualization process took place as she traveled the world putting other people and cultures into the context of her own unique life. 

Cherel’s book, a museum quality publication, is a scrapbook of sorts. Her brief and yet poignant journal writings along with the photographic images, answer the viewer’s questions such as:

  • Who are these people?
  • What is their place in their own small world and in the world at large?
  • Why does the subject matter to the photographer? 

Through the Lens of Her Camera also gives the viewer a strong sense of the questions that Cherel asked herself as she considered taking a shot: 

  • What is the subject feeling at the moment?
  • How can I best capture the emotion through the lens?
  • What can I and others learn from this experience?
  • Can a fulfilling story be told in this shot? 

Computer software provides ways for  photographers to manipulate, “doctor”  and crop photographs. It is handy for color correction, size adjustments and improving focus issues. But in this age of digital photography, programs such as Photoshop can not improve a photographer’s ability listen deeply and sensitively to their subject’s emotions, translate and create images that tell stunning stories. 

Cherel’s images teach photographers how to use emotive skills to capture great storytelling images.  If you wish to learn more about the art, writing, and photography of Cherel Ito, Through the Lens of Her Camera is now conveniently available through www.BarnesandNoble.com.

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Finding Inspiration in the Everyday

“Get up early to take photos of the marketplace…melons, pears, fish…bought bread from back seat of a car from a very happy man.” ~ Cherel Ito

Many artists are stereo-typically said to be self absorbed in themselves and their craft, often unable to relate to others and the world around them. Cherel Ito’s art of photography required that she go outside of herself and become a student of people, their emotions and the cultures in which they existed. 

Cherel found inspiration in everyday scenes – a day at the market, the bathing of a baby in the river, brotherhood among people, celebration and ritual in different cultures, all fascinating stuff! It was a dream fulfilled when she found the next tale she could tell through her photo journalism. 

This market scene is a story in contrasts between life as she knew it in America and life in other countries where Cherel traveled. Going to open air food markets is part of daily, community routines. Shoppers in Europe, in the Balkan region and in other countries around the world buy only what they can carry home in two arms – bread enough to last a day or two, a few custom cut pieces of meat, fresh fruit and veggies bought individually rather than in ten pound bags. http://bit.ly/kLgzO7

In America we build behemoth food stores and grocery marts. The yearly overhead expense of running these commercial food centers is huge. The logistics of getting food from farm land to tabletop quickly, while it is still fresh and so does not spoil in transit is made complicated. Many decades ago, most Americans did away with visiting the community butcher, baker and green grocer (the local farmer) in favor of “one stop shopping” in supermarts. The good news is, there has been a resurgence in people’s interest in farmers markets. http://bit.ly/iFyBAR

Through the Lens of Her Camera is an insightful book about cultural contrasts between community life in the United States and community life in other countries around the world. Cherel Ito’s work is housed in the permanent collection of theMuseum of Women in the Arts in Washington,D.C. www.nmwa.org  because her perceptive eye captured some of the best photo-journalism and portrait photography there is, in history, of people and places across the globe.

This photograph brought to you by www.cherelito.com and www.throughthelensofhercamera.com.

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A Product of Art and Soul

I have learned to be at peace doing nothing – to empty the mind- simplify and curb desires.” ~ Cherel Ito 

Creative economy has been the buzzword in pockets all over the United States. It is about living a life fulfilled artfully through our passions and working with purpose in all that we do.

More and more, people are realizing that there is great personal value in fulfilling our lives with what we love to do, rather than just existing to make the almighty buck. Individuals are beginning to realize that the vicious circle of working lots of hours just to have, to spend, to accumulate and keep up with the Joneses does not necessarily make sense. It is not a sustainable way to live. It is hard to enjoy and live healthy lifestyles when we are stuck on the treadmill of working more hours just to be able spend more. 

Relationships, community, volunteerism, thinking beyond our selves and our material needs are beginning to take priority in people’s lives, as this slow economy has forced us to see that there are other ways of being. And that is not a bad thing! 

Cherel Ito was an artist, filmmaker and writer long before the term “creative economy” became hip! Most likely she would laugh if she heard the term “creative economy.” It was the way she existed day after day. She was just being herself! 

She realized her dreams through the lens of her camera. She was rich in creative currency and the way she lived her life was a product of art and soul.

To order the stunning photographic journal filled with the spirit of people all over the world, please visit www.cherelito.com and www.throughthelensofhercamera.com.

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Open Doors and Open Heart

The flowers in your eyes are more beautiful than those in the fields.” ~ Cherel Ito 

From this quotation, it would seem that Cherel Ito was seduced by her subject’s eyes. However, it was not the eyes that held mystery and intrigue for her. What existed beyond expression was what really drew her. The eyes were simply a passageway into her subject’s soul. 

Cherel once said that “forming the creation is the best part of the creator.” Through the Lens of Her Camera tells a tale of her own beautiful spirit, open and accepting of all cultures and people.  Her creation, her photographic journal, is a story of humanity. 

Listening served Cherel very well as a photo journalist. Her accepting and tolerant nature allowed her to listen to her own heart and to the psyche of others, to capture her subject’s character and spirit, and translate it stunningly through the lens. 

Searching for that special flicker of emotion, unique look or memorable circumstance of human interaction, transcendent of time, is what motivated and carried her all over the globe. Her subjects were rarely posed. Portraits were captured of people engaged in everyday life in striking, distinctive ways.  The images presented in Cheryl Ito’s book Through the Lens of Her Camera have the same relevance in today’s world as they did when they were taken decades ago. 

For more information on Cherel’s Ito’s work as photographer, filmmaker, writer and artist, please visit www.cherelito.com and www.throughthelensofhercamera.com.

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