A Few Words About  Yarka      

It seems unlikely that the picture story will ever occupy the place it did when Eugene Smith and like-minded photographers communicated the beauty and terror of the world to waiting eyes unsullied by television's 30 second visual bytes of "life." But there are still photographers who wake up every morning looking for a story to tell, in love with both content and the process of capturing it on film. 

Yarka Vendrinska is a young woman who wishes she were older. Not old old, but she would like to have been shooting when photojournalism was new and more appreciated. Perhaps she was born 30 years too late, for it seems the place for the concerned photographer has evolved into a game of musical chairs, or more correctly, musical media. Where we once had Life and the other great picture magazines, today we have a few excellent newspapers, some news magazines still fighting the good fight and a group of good, but elitist and expensive coffee table periodicals. As in musical chairs, every round seems to reduce the number of places one's work can be appreciated or even published in a medium everyone can afford.

So what good are moving stories if they can't be shared? Not very, which is why many photojournalists have gravitated to the Web, which offers them the opportunity to make the work of their hearts, eyes and minds visible to more people than all the magazines put together. While there is the risk that an embarrassment of riches will make it hard to find those special pages among the tens of millions served every day, from all over the world, I don't think that will be the case with Yarka. After all, you're here, aren't you?

As a photographer myself,  I understand  the passion with which this work was undertaken.  It's the passion of someone who cares, and can make you care too. So, if you are moved by the sick but plucky little girl in a Slovak hospital, or the elderly man who thought he might be dead, or the street woman offering the only thing she had to share, I  hope you will tell a few friends who might also appreciate these images. 

Many years ago, Weegee  the Great said "Never rob a man of his song." I think he would be proud of a young woman who sees dignity and great humanity in everyone. 

I know I am.

                      JL  (1999)                                              


 A Poem For Yarka