Robert Capa’s much-quoted and often criticized saying “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough” was long considered the credo of photojournalistic encounters with the world. Closeness, in other words the physical presence at the scene of the event, can still be seen as indispensable for the telling of photographic stories. The photographer’s ability to build up a human relationship with the people involved and to convey this in pictures, involves the viewers emotionally. Often it is this particular closeness that gives photography its most powerful impact. In times in which everyday life is severely restricted by contact bans and curfews, even for photojournalists worldwide, it is often difficult to establish both the one and the other proximity. During the ongoing SARS-CoV-2-pandemic, many photographers were forced to look for new ways to visualize their view of the world and tell their stories against all odds. Only a few of them have been able to overcome all the barriers and create a closeness to people that makes their narratives unique and catchy.
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Mary Gelman, sociologist and documentary photographer, born in 1994 is a member of the renowned photo agency VII. She focuses on independent photographic projects, which have been awarded the Leica Oskar Barnack Prize, among others. In her work she explores larger social contexts through close personal narratives. In doing so, she repeatedly pursues relevant questions about gender and body, boundaries and identity, discrimination and the human relationship to the environment. Mary Gelman lives and works in St. Petersburg. For ‘In Crisis Mode’ we introduce Mary Gelman in an interview.