The Ed Kashi lecture at the National Geographic building, on November twenty-first, was one of the most emotional events I have ever been to. During the course of his lecture, we, the audience, laughed, cried, joked, and stared. We were shocked, awed, enlightened and impressed. As his images and multimedia presentations were projected up on the screen, we were continually impressed; his images are amazing.
Ed Kashi is a noted and renowned National Geographic staff photographer and his images are quite impressive. He showed us pieces from three photo essays and a video/mulitmedia presentation for each; the three categories were Indian infrastructure, Oppression and living conditions in Nigeria, and aging in America. Each piece was remarkable in its realness and sincerity. Ed Kashi’s work is very real, the people in his photographs are almost tangible, their emotion and essence seem to leap off the screen or paper.
This sincerity and candidness made the presentation extra-emotional as you felt like you were witnessing the injustices in Nigeria first hand and in the aging piece, which followed Kashi’s father in law and family as the elederly man moved in with the Kashi’s, we were treated to the delights of a grandparent and the heart ache of loss. His pieces were so raw and real, but yet clean and refined and well composed. His photographs are very impressive in that regard – they are well composed and are scholastically good pictures yet they do not feel established or arranged at all, you can tell that each shot is a candid glimpse into a life, into a heart.
In fact the pieces were so real that after the multimedia presentation for the aging peace, people, including myself, were sobbing and sniffling, and as the lights came up, one could see people wiping away tears. Furthermore, during the Nigeria and India pieces you could see the shock and awe on the faces of the audience, sometimes accompanied by gasps and whispers.
Ed Kashi’s work is as real as it gets, on the ground, candid images of real people with real lives and his photographs are outstandingly good at protraying real life, when looking at an Ed Kashi image you know you are looking into the eyes of a real person in a real place in the very same world as yourself. I am not saying Kashi is the best photographer of all time, but he is very good at what he does, he takes pictures of people around the world and shows us that their stories are real and their lives are real. Ed Kashi knows they are, that is why he has been very active in advocacy work, especially in Nigeria, and, he wants his work to be the closest thing to seeing it firsthand, he wants the viewer to feel the same emotions as he did when he witnessed the actual event and met the real people.