Welcome to our fourth annual Photo Issue. It’s always a treat to throw (most of ) our usual programming to the arid winds of August and let the shutterbugs have some love. This year I’m especially thankful to the photographers who made it out to the Baton Rouge and New Orleans protests last month. You’ll see a few of those moments in this issue. When they teach July 2016 in the distant future—it should probably get its own chapter—I bet we’ll still be seeing Jonathan Bachman’s instantly iconic image of Iesha Evans in her flowing dress, stoically taking on a pack of riot gear-clad police. We might also see an image from our own Patrick Melon, whose photo of a protester engulfed by the same terror squad of cops went viral as well. These images no doubt will survive history’s curation and like all great photographs, will tell the story in ways words simply cannot.
As I’ve written before, the act of taking a photo can be fraught with all kinds of psychic violence—photographers “shoot,” they “capture,” they “take.” Easy to forget that sometimes the violence is also quite physical, whether it’s the equipment weighing down a photographer’s back, or a situation where press and protester alike are regarded with the same disdain by a menacing police force. So to all of you putting yourselves in harm’s way to document the struggle, or even simply lugging gear from place to place, thank you for everything you do.
As I’m sure many artists will attest, the craft chooses you. I know a lot of photographers pick up a camera because it’s the only way to express what they see and feel inside. So another round of thanks and gratitude to all of the photographers of this issue, many of whom would’ve rather pulled out their own fingernails than write a statement about their images—or write anything at all! Y’all are your own special brand of diva, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.