I’m not shooting anyone: Asher Svidensky on photography as a young, universal language


posted Tuesday, February 2, 2016 at 4:34 PM EDT

Photographer Asher Svidensky is not only a great photographer, but he's also a compelling story teller, as you can see in his TEDx talk below.

Svidensky opens his talk with a story of he and his team working up in the mountains, cold and tired, photographing Mongolia's first eagle huntress in a thousand years releasing her eagle into the frigid mountain air. In this moment, all that Svidensky can think about is how he cannot wait to show this image to his dad. He says that photography is an international language, "Saying a word is an action of projecting an image into the listener's head."

Svidensky says that photography is everywhere in our modern world. To help illustrate his point, he says that every minute, 200,000 new images are put online, just on Facebook. Considering the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, that's 200 million words a minute. He continues, "Photography is the youngest language in the world."

What are the words that we use to describe the act of photographing? Take, capture, shoot, these are all violent words according to Svidensky. He wants to change the way that we approach and talk about photography because it has an important role in our lives.

Asher goes on to discuss his personal workflow and how he approaches photographing people. His approach is up-close and personal, he views photography as a two-way street where he and his subjects work together to make meaningful images and visualize people's stories.

Do you need words as well, or are images alone enough? Asher recalls his first time in Mongolia. Unable to speak any Mongolian and with his translator asleep, Asher shared his images on his laptop with the nomadic family that had let them stay the night. Soon enough, the family pulled out their own photo albums and they were able to share their personal lives with each other without ever speaking a word.

Be sure to watch the full video above to hear more about Asher Svidensky's work and his views on photography's importance. To see more of his work, visit his website.

(Seen via DIY Photography