All of the photos in this post were taken by Mark Laita, and are part of his project “Created Equal.” No doubt these images stand on their own, even without an intro, or comments, or whatever other clutter we might want to throw in.
Still, some more words. What fascinates me about these photos is that Laita can capture in an image that ineffable spark that makes us human. It is not that he is somehow able to encapsulate their entire lives in a single image…it is that he snags that little flicker that gives me pause, causes me to wonder, and reminds me of an important but often-overlooked truth: I really don’t know as much about other people as I think I do.
Juxtaposing one iconic image after another allows us just enough common ground to compare and contrast the images. As we sit at our computers, interpreting and trying to make sense of what we see, we may forget that in some ways we are, in a sense, staring into a funhouse mirror. What we see is our own sense of belief, our prejudices and suppositions, bounced back at us by these fascinating characters.
These are extraordinary pictures…especially if you like people…and especially if you believe what Christians have been professing for a few millennia, namely that each of these individuals are creations of God – that they are people with whom God is in love. These are not actors, and not just characters in someone else’s reality show, but real people, with stories, dreams, ideals and complex emotional lives all their own.
Each one is worth the time. Each one has a story to tell. Each one of them might also, if we are willing to sit with them long enough, offer us a little insight into who we are.