Susan Meiselas ... Well-Traveled Photographer, Recording and Then Returning

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Susan Meiselas is looking a bit shaken. She has just heard that her trip to Guinea, scheduled to start the next day, has been canceled; her driver there has been assaulted and is fleeing the country. She is working with Human Rights Watch photographing child domestic workers, and clearly someone didn’t like it....

“Part of what happens if you stay and take pictures is that you feel you will protect people just by standing there,” she said. “But you can’t stand there that long, and you can’t protect them.”

Taking photographs, she once said in an interview with Nicaraguan television, “is sometimes the least you can do.”

Much of what drives Ms. Meiselas’s work is a desire to step back through the looking glass to find the people she once photographed, to forge connections and return their pictures to them.

“We take pictures away and we don’t bring them back,” she said. “That became a central quest for me — relinking, revisiting, the repatriation of work: it’s become a kind of motif in my thinking.”

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