Ryan Lobo has been involved in documentary filmmaking for over ten years. During that time, he has also taken thousands of photographs while filming, coming to the realisation that sometimes a photograph can reveal the truth, without agenda or otherwise. In this talk he shares some of his pictures.
In 2007, Lobo travelled to three war zones, in Liberia, Afghanistan and Iraq. He began to question his own integrity in storytelling, wondering if he’d compromised himself. He decided that when he’d worked for compassion and purpose, fulfilment and success arrived on their own.
Here he shows the audience a number of photographs he took of a warlord named Joshua in Liberia. Joshua was one of the most prolific mass murderers alive in the world at the time, responsible for the deaths of up to ten thousand people directly. Lobo photographed him seeking forgiveness from the families of people he’d killed, and saw a capacity to forgive which he’d never thought possible.
Lobo’s second story is that of an all- women group of Indian peacekeepers who worked with the U.N. in Liberia. The women use negotiation and tolerance more often than an armed response; one photograph shows them smiling at a drunk man who’d been moving menacingly towards Lobo’s camera. These peacekeepers inspired many women to join the police force in India.
He also did a story about the Delhi fire service, in a film which still airs on the National Geographic. According to Lobo, when the film airs he and his colleagues still receive congratulations. The story also inspired many of the firemen to work harder as they received praise instead of abuse. The pictures shown in this talk illustrate some of the difficulty experienced by the fire service in dealing with a city in which more than 14 million people live in slums.
Lobo’s photographs and stories aim to portray people who are heroic and good. This is his personal motto behind storytelling; ‘ focus on what is dignified, courageous and beautiful, and it grows.’