In the midst of the mass media coverage of migrants and refugees, Tom Saxby (graphic designer) and Daniel Castro (photographer) set out to capture a different version of the truth. Over 7 weeks they visited refugee and migrant ‘hot spots’, and when they came back they brought their community a passport of people on their way to a better life. Saxby and Castro shared their story with Polis/LSE’s Journalism Summer School. This report by Polis Summer School student Valerie Spina.
Saxby and Castro opened their story with a Google image search of ‘refugees’. Displayed was an entire screen of faceless people, packed into small spaces, stuffed on boats, climbing through barbed fences or lined for miles like cattle. These were the images the mainstream media organizations were showing, but this was not the whole story.
Saxby and Castro were concerned that information comes from fewer and fewer places, and that they hoped our information environment might one day be as diverse as our ecological one.
So with motivations in head and heart, the two set out to tell a different story.
Their book, The Foreigner, is a documentation of their journey, a story of the refugee and migrant crisis, a beautiful piece of forensic art, and a testament to the people they met. By itself the book is well crafted, using divergent texture and transparency of paper. Passages accompany maps, and the images set the highest standard for the book.
Castro spoke about how film requires time to a much different extent than digital, as the aperture, ISO, shutter speed, and most importantly the subject have to be all aligned. It’s often a ‘shot in the dark’ to take a film photo.
They captured intimacy, pride, courage, and so many more facets of life that make us uniquely human. But what they did even better, is give a testament to these people, and to this time.
Saxby and Castro spoke about how they wanted to create this piece for its own sake, that they’ve done it now. Now they are hopeful about where the work and the people go next.
By Valerie Spina