We all know the power of great photography. To me, there is still nothing like the still photograph to convey emotion and the significance of a particular moment. Obviously, photographs are not just for print. Ken Burns, for example, says that he views the photograph as the basic building block or DNA of his documentary film making. "Pictures," he says, "are often our closest representation of the reality we're trying to come to terms with." With that in mind, I'd like to point you to a 13-minute slideshow by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Renée Byer. Renée is the sister of my pal Tom Byer (the famous soccer guru "Tom-san" in Tokyo) and she was one of the fantastic people who presented for TEDxTokyo in 2009. Since her presentation was about the photographs, she chose to sit down close to the audience and read a transcript in sync with the large images projected behind her. I remember this presentation very well; I was sitting in the front row with Barry Eisler and we were both deeply moved by the end.
The final four minutes
Renée finishes her presentation by showing photos from her series called “A Mother’s Journey," which tells the sad and evocative story of a mother's love and determination as she witnesses her young son die of cancer. As Renée says in her narration, "...dying is hard enough. Our society should make living through it easier." By the time Renée finished her slide show, there was not a dry eye in the house. It was not a fancy presentation and there was no dramatic or polished narration. The photos spoke louder than any words could. Renée's talk was the last of the session. During the break I found her on stage and just gave her a big hug. Although we had just met the day before, Renée was able to create such emotion with her simple delivery and powerful images that I had no words for her other than a warm embrace of appreciation and a gentle "thank you."