Photographer Essay: Boogie, Documentary and Street Photographer
I have always loved photography that is truthful. Photography that bares all, shows the audience the truth of what is happening; that’s what I believe to be true artwork. For me, the idea of street and documentary photography has always been appealing, as it will never deceive you, what you see is what you get, perhaps your interpretation of what you see may not be the conventional one that other see, but that doesn’t mean its wrong, it means its your view. Growing up, everyone is continuously surrounded by news of events, of places, of people, but very few are ever exposed the details of what they’re hearing, or understanding; they aren’t shown the nitty gritty bits. That’s why I’ve always loved discovering photographers that show to you the little details, that illustrate the situation exactly as it was, it allows you as a viewer to understand the image more, to know a part of the story, to think and have some connection with the subject.
A short while ago I was able to find a photographer that did just that, and he went by the name of Boogie. Boogie produces some of the most shocking and powerful images I have ever come across, photographing gangs, and drug addicts, delving into their lives and documenting the obsessive and addictive nature many can posses when it come to things such as drugs and alcohol. For me, personally I find his work incredibly moving and informative, the way in which he produces strong, emotive images of the consequences of drug addiction and abuse, caused by this greed of drugs, and the envy of their effects, works incredibly well to inform public of the incredible implications such things can have.
Take this image of Boogie’s for example; here Boogie was photographing a mother who was a heroine addict, documenting her day-to-day life, the way in which she lived. I think an incredibly strong aspect of the image is the composition and body language of the woman, the way in which she is in a bent over position suggests a vulnerability, yet contrastingly you can see this confident yearning like atmosphere from her grasping and clenched fists, exemplifying the yearning for the drugs, that she feels. Furthermore, something I feel that greatly stands out is the way in which she has her back turned towards the dirty wall, in some sense symbolising the way in which she is turning her back from problems, from her ‘dirty’ past, trying to forget the reality of what she is doing and how it effects her house hold and lifestyle, only concentrating on when her next ‘hit’ will be.
Here again is a strong an effective image, illustrating the administration of heroine. Such an image acts not only to inform an audience of what exactly may go on behind closed doors, but shows just how truthful and gritty Boogie’s photography is. It exemplifies the way in which he is not afraid of the truth when it comes to his photography, and that he believes that it is only fair that members of the public are exposed to the truth behind things such as drug addiction, as it could be this exposure that enables an audience to fully understand the addiction. Through his work over the years he has worked in a variety of dangerous environments, exposing himself to a great deal of potential dangers in order to capture his documentary street photography, which in itself acts as a testament to how serious not only Boogie, but also society considers these issues to be.
Another incredibly shocking and powerful image of which I found to be one of the most moving, was this image of the drug-addicted mother, washing her newborn child in a dirty sink. I feel that not only does this really striking image hit the viewer but it is also screaming of this need for help. The image of such a fragile, young and defenceless infant being exposed to such an infected environment; infected by the greed of drugs and their consequences, gives the viewer this need to help, or at least shocks them into noticing the clear and obvious extreme extent of which this addiction is affecting those that live within the drug infested environments. Such an image spawns the imagination into considering the future ramifications that this will have on the child, or even to consider if this child has a future at all if they are to try to survive in such an environment.
It’s through imagery such a these, that real emotion is felt, connecting the viewer to the subject in the image, allowing them to understand on a deeper level the daily lives of some that may not be fortunate enough to live in a safe environment, and me be drawn into living drug, abuse, alcohol, who knows what-infested lives. It is the honesty and raw truth in his images that creates and sends such effective messages, giving the public a sense of understanding, allowing the public to grasp the severity of what can happening.
However, when looking at Boogie’s work he also has done much that looks into the cultures of counties and the people’s way of life there. For me I was particularly interested when I came across his collection of images based off of Istanbul life, in Turkey. This sparked a particular interest for me as I’m actually half Turkish, and therefore knowing the culture in itself, I was able to justify just how truthful his images were.
For example, here I loved the way in which he had captured this image, as it exemplified exactly the type of relationships men have to women in turkey. Having grown up surrounded by the culture, ive grown to understand that there is a somewhat male chauvinism that exists within the Turkish culture, as women can be taught to be submissive to their husbands, with husbands being head of house, and men being taught that they have a certain superiority over women etc. Though in the modern day there are changes to this that you can see in the younger generations, I believe this image captures this perhaps dated cultural characteristic beautifully, the way in which the wife is gripping so much onto her husband and somewhat hiding behind him, as though she shouldn’t be seen by anyone else. As a viewer, you could question ‘is the woman scared of something?’, however if you were to go a little deeper into it, perhaps you could be questioning, ‘is it in fact her husband she is scared of?’ It makes you wonder why she has reason to be scared of a photographer, or why she has reason to take refuge behind her husband in the middle of the day whilst shopping, there are always some deeper meanings to be interpreted.
Another of his images I’ve found to be incredibly touching was one of a young child playing with a gun:
This photo was said to have been taken in Zeytinburnu, an area of which is predominantly Kurdish and Arabic. Due to the there being bad relations between the Turkish and Kurdish this therefore allows you to build some understanding of just how serious this problem between the three races are. I feel this images is one of the most powerful Boogie has taken, as it shows such a vulnerability and innocence of a child, and how that is being corrupt from such a young age. You begin to understand that this is not something that any child living in this area of turkey has brought upon themselves, but something they are being born into. The Turkish, and Kurdish, and Arabic children born in these areas are being born into a continuous, evidently dangerous and wounding battle between the races, and there is little they can do to prevent this. For me, images like this really hit home, as though Ive been to the more developed areas of Turkey, I’ve also been to these more troubled areas, and ive seen first hand the impact that this way of live can have on people. Thus one of the reasons I feel so passionately about Boogies photography: I know that what he photographs is real.
I feel that as a whole, when looking at the collections of Boogie’s work, you are able to appreciate the lengths he really does go to, to capture these stories. He endangers himself, in order to get to know cultures, communities and people, and produces some mind-blowing, and powerful images, that really make the audience think or push them into an acceptance of reality.