Inuit have been photographed by explorers, missionaries, academics and tourists since the late 1880's. These historical works present an invaluable collection of images that recount Inuit lives—work (hunting, blubber making), means of travel, cultural activities, families, etc. It is a collection of work in which Inuit are the subject of the photographer. Today, Inuit are behind the camera; it is now Inuit vision that creates what the viewer sees. Jennie Williams, Holly Anderson, Ossie Michelin, David Yarrow and Brian Adams—to name a few—are Inuit photographers who are using the camera to explore Inuit identity and record contemporary Inuit way-of-life. There are also contemporary non-Inuit photographers like Stephen Gorman, Hans-Ludwig Blohm, and Ian Tamblyn whose works look to capture Inuit life. This presentation would trace the history of Inuit as subjects, to Inuit as creators. We would explore what the camera tells us both about the photographer as well as his/her subjects. We will question Teju Cole's assertion (New York Times Magazine, 2/10/19) that "When we speak of 'shooting' with a camera, we are acknowledging the kinship of photography and violence."
We will try to answer the question: Has the movement of the camera from the hands of the outside observer to the hands of the Inuit observer changed the dynamic of the photograph? How has the photographer's creative vision changed when Inuit move from the subject to the creator? Or has it? Does the power of photography to educate, initiate actions and document life change depend on who wields the camera? How do Inuit and non-Inuit photographers complement each other? Or do they?