Montana-based photographer Ami Vitale can see rays of light in even the darkest of circumstances. Her humanistic approach to photojournalism and deep understanding of the complex geopolitical world shine through in her images that grace the pages of magazines including National Geographic, Newsweek, GEO, TIME and Smithsonian.
Muslim children play outside of a school in a refugee camp that housed more than 120,000 people, set in the state of Gujarat in Ahmedabad, India. DPP: Photojournalists tend to flock en masse to conflict zones and emerge with powerful, yet similar dark imagery. Your images seem to buck the trend and give the viewers a sense of hope from even the deepest sea of madness.
Ami Vitale: Even in the worst places I’ve been to, the people are just like you and me. They’re not on the extremes of society. They want safety and security for their children and for them to have a good education. As journalists, we tend to parachute in, and we have to come back with a great story. I’m not denying that horrible things are happening and that they need coverage, I’m just saying we need a wider lens to help us relate to people.
DPP: And you’re saying this from the perspective of having traveled to more than 85 countries, many where the rule of the gun supersedes the rule of law.
Vitale: We need to show the everyday things that help people relate to each other. When I turn on the TV today, the world looks terrifying. The truth is, it’s not as terrifying as it looks. I know this sounds crazy given recent news. Those very extreme elements are there. But it’s getting worse because we’re not emphasizing the majority that’s in the middle. We need stories that help us understand one another, help us share the commonality. I just want equal coverage. In virtually every conflict zone I’ve been in, I feel like we’re being hijacked by the extreme elements. That’s the tragedy for me. That’s why I have as a mission to talk about these quieter stories. I know they’re not as dramatic.