Peter Dench’s Most Meaningful Photo
For 25 years, the international photojournalism festival Visa Pour L’Image has been bringing together people who care deeply about the craft and its responsibility to give voice to the vulnerable and help the world see itself. In honor of this, our Reportage by Getty Images photojournalists took some time to talk about which of their images has had the most significant impact on them over their long and storied careers.
Peter Dench: Bristol Car Crash
I’m known for my more humorous photographs and believe humour can be an important tool in delivering a serious message.
However, sometimes photography shouldn’t be funny, clever or humorous. At times, it just has to document what is.
I was shooting a project on alcohol culture in the UK and had amassed a good number of strong, “laugh out loud” pictures. I was advised by my then-editor, that the work was good, but If I stepped out of my comfort zone, it would be better.
A night on patrol with the Bristol medical rapid response ensued. It was a night of mixed feelings: I didn’t want to have wasted my time, and I didn’t want anyone to get hurt. After various false alarms, at around 3 a.m., we arrived on the scene of an alcohol-related traffic accident.
It was an uncomfortable and necessary experience in my photographic development.
It showed that if I could disarm the viewer with humour [through my other photos], and then include an image like this, the impact is tenfold. A successful sequence of photographs, for me, is to take the viewer through a range of emotions and allow them to engage with the issue being presented. Make them laugh, make them think, make the react and you have a story.
See more work from Peter Dench’s project “England Uncensored” on the Reportage Web site. Peter’s new memoir “The Diary of a Sometime Working Pro,” published by the United Nations of Photography, is available here.
Peter Dench, based in London, works primarily in the editorial, portraiture, video and advertising fields of image making. Read more about him here.