I often get frustrated and discouraged by the way we have to report data in order to receive funding. The images we must present is that our community is desolate and desperately needs someone's help in terms of money, resources, or man power. Though there are definitely needs, I prefer to look at the hope, the possibilities, and the capacity the community has to offer.
If you're much of a photographer, you know the way a camera can focus on one point and blur the background in a way that creates a very crisp image in the foreground. I love that feature. In our inner cities, though, I feel like the camera of our media, many of the volunteers, and the funders changes the focal point. Instead of creating the crisp image of smiling kids, glimmers of hope in their eyes, hard-working parents, and moments of community and blurring the desolation in the background, the lens of most people's cameras change the focus.
The funders, volunteers, mission groups, and media often want to blur those images listed above in order to make the crisp image the person doing a drug deal, the trash, the dilapidated houses.
It's not that we don't have all of that in our community. We do. But it's what you choose to focus on that makes a difference. Focusing on the positive images doesn't mean we can't see the trash. We see it every day. When we are forced to dwell on it is when the discouragement and complacency sets in. Why are we forced to focus on *our* successes *to* the community instead of being able to focus on the determination and great families and how they prosper once provided with the missing resources in a community that's void of computers, job training, quality education, etc?
As a photographer, my focal point is going to be the bright spots in the community. The background will continue to be there and continue to be a negative mark on our communities until we change our f-stop to make the foreground (not the background) images sharper.
Good article that complements this theory: Faces in the Rubble