More about One Second of Light:
A few years ago, at an exhibition I held in London, a man who had just finished walking around the gallery came over to me. Somewhat angrily, he scoffed; “Do you think you will change the world with these photos?”
“No” I replied, “but maybe I’ll inspire the person who can.”
Maybe it’s simplistic, but that’s why I do the work I do; and that’s why I put this collection of stories together. In the hope they may inspire others to action. I don’t believe any one of us can change the world, but I do believe we should all do what we can to make it better.
Most of the images in this book were created on self-funded projects, many are unpublished; stories I was told were not powerful enough or were lacking a ‘hook’ or ‘actuality’. Ironically that had always been my purpose, as my interest lay in the moments between the action. It’s in those pauses where I find my stories. Cartier-Bresson perfected the decisive moment; my search was for the breath in between.
In her introduction to this book, Melissa Fleming describes the banality in many of the images; I take that as a huge compliment. Because for me it is in those moments that I think we can find understanding and empathy. Often events are too big for us to comprehend, to extreme to relate too. However, if in that chaos we see familiar phrases - a mother brushing her daughter’s hair, coffee being made, a father holding his child’s hand – we find shared humanity.
At a time when the internet is full of images meant to shock and divide, it seems more important than ever to focus my camera on the things that unite us. Whilst some document the differences between us, I am fascinated by what makes us the same. Humanity is universal and wherever I travel, I see the same hopes and dreams, the same intimacies and values.
One of the things I love about photography is that if you took ten photographers and stuck them in the same identical room, you’d get ten completely different images. Despite what some may say, there is no wrong or right in photography, there are just different ways of seeing.
It took me a long time to find my way of seeing, my way of telling stories and I’m still learning. When putting together this book, I could see how I’ve developed and equally how much more I have to learn. What I find hardest is the images that do not make the edit, that’s where I feel I’ve failed and where my lessons come from.
More than anything else though; this is a book of stories, of other people’s lives.
But they are just moments.
Whilst a printed photograph serves as a permanent document to a time, its source is but a flicker. Photography is an equation of time and light, and whilst often we focus on the light, time is less revered. As a photographer I am drawn to light and shadow, but constrained by time.
So in this collection, whilst we see stories from Angola to Bangladesh, Afghanistan to Sudan; all we are seeing is a flicker of other’s lives. If you add the combined shutter speeds of these images – they equate to nothing more than a moment of time – One Second of Light. Photography can give us some insight, but it’s just a window you are looking through momentarily. For those caught in these stories, the time and their suffering is a constant.
When I set out to make these photographs, it was with the intention to record the stories of others and to pass them on. I claim no ownership, but hopefully have been a good guardian. If one person sees a photograph, a story, in this book and that causes them to act on it, I’ve done my job.
Giles Duley, Hastings – 2015