There was a striking photograph in yesterday’s ‘Sunday Life’. It’s a double page spread as you open the magazine, showing a smiling, short-haired, blonde topless woman sitting on a chair, with her daughter in a ballet tutu playing on the floor beside her. The woman has had a double mastectomy.
It’s a breath-catching image. At first I felt guilty even looking at it, and turned the page quickly with an ‘Oh! as if I’d disturbed her, and seen something that I shouldn’t. Then I turned back the page and looked more closely. I’ve never seen a double mastectomy before. It’s confronting, but became less so the longer I looked. You see her smile more clearly than anything else.
The caption reads:
This is what matters to Lisa Wilkinson. Lisa took this photo of Marina and her daughter Sydney to capture the beauty and incredible strength of women. Visit canon.com.au/shine to upload your own image and shine a light on what matters to you.
I really don’t know what to think. It’s a beautiful image: stark, positive and you sense that Marina is in charge of the situation. But I wish it wasn’t produced as part of some advertising campaign by a camera company.
What is the camera company’s purpose in paying for this campaign? (quite apart from the licensing and ownership questions that arise from the photos produced by participants). Would a photograph of someone with a colostomy bag have had the same effect from an advertising point of view? It probably would have on me as a viewer- that instant flash of feeling like an intruder, followed by an almost guilty sense of curiosity – but would the camera company so ready to embrace it?
I’m trying to imagine the conversation around the board table when planning this campaign. I suspect that this blog post is exactly the reaction they were hoping for. That (and not the photograph itself) makes me uncomfortable.