Sarah Bones: Photographing the Other Side

I have a friend, Sarah Bones, who is an award-winning photographer.

Sarah takes photographs for NGOs in some of the most devastated parts of the world–the other side of what we know. She has photographed the wreckage of the great tsunami in India from a few years back, a refugee camp in Tanzania, the horrors of Sierra Leone and Rwanda.

Here’s the biography from her web site:

Sarah S. Bones saved for her first 35mm camera at age 13, in 1969. She immediately hitchhiked into Philadelphia so that she could photograph the lives and circumstances of people living on the street. As a professional photographer, her passion and courage in documenting people in need continued and has carried her to Africa, across Asia, Guatemala, Cuba and locally, into prisons, homeless shelters and the intensity of political campaigns. She uses her camera and vision to tell the stories of men, women, and children around the world who are voiceless and too often ignored by the popular media.

Sarah is a self-taught, award winning photographer based outside of Philadelphia who works in both digital and film. Her photographs have been exhibited both nationally and internationally. When not on an assignment she has a successful freelance business in the Philadelphia area.

Recently she mounted an exhibit in Malvern, PA.  It is a small show with maybe thirty or forty prints detailing life in the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

In this particular show, the photographs focus on the birthing center in the busy Karail slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In her notes to the photographs, she mentions that “Bangladesh is on track to meet the 2015 deadline for U.N. Millennium Development Goal 5 (50 percent reduction in maternal deaths).” It is an extraordinary program that tries to save mothers who give birth in some of the most primitive conditions.

Those photographs which are not focused on the birthing center looks at Dhaka itself. Dhaka has a small industry of dismantling great ships, and the photos show young boys of 7 and 8 years old, barefoot and wide-eyed, working in the scrap yards where metal is being smelted, parts disassembled, everything salvaged. Like the birthing center, this is by no means a tech-savvy industry, but simply subsistence salvaging taking place in the most dire environment.

The photographs are stunning.  Not only for the subjects–which are more than provocative and more than memorable–but for their beauty.  Colors scream out in brilliance against the drab background of the Karail slum and the dramatic black-and-whites are beautifully lit, lending a wisdom and dignity to her subjects. One photo of a building streaked with rust and grime from which bright Bangladesh clothes hung to dry was my favorite.  It reminded me of an abstract painting–with so much more invested within.

The photographs are all copyrighted and cannot be posted.  But they are visible on her web site.  Do try to check it out. There are photographs there that you may never forget. Click here for Sarah’s web-site


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