Thomas McGovern is a documentary photographer and Chair of the World Languages and Literatures Department at CSUSB. In the summer and fall of 2017, McGovern photographed In|Dignity participants using a 645 medium format film camera. Utilizing manual techniques requires contemplation on the part of both photographer and subject, and a conversation between them. The technique also produces a physical negative that is fragile – some would argue, just like humans. McGovern’s process thus not only produced sharp images and natural postures, but also embodied the humanistic building of relations that In|Dignity seeks to promote.
Documentary photography is a method of visual storytelling used as a tool to bring about social change by exposing unseen or ignored realities, amplifying a diversity of perspectives, and deepening understanding and emotional connection to individual lives. Documentary photographers strive to represent people as a whole, to avoid sensationalizing the subjects of their images, and to provide intimate portrayals of everyday life. The technique is lauded for its ability to capture and sustain public attention, to mobilize people, and to encourage the public to become more sensitive to the cultural and political contexts in which they live.