From 9/11 to COVID-19, NYC photographer Ron B. Wilson’s camera angles towards resilience, not tragedy

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“I am on a mission to photograph the most resilient and marginalised people across the world,” says photographer Ron B. Wilson at the Xposure International Photography Festival



Back in 1986, he saw the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City as immovable north stars. When he saw them collapse right before his eyes on September 11, 2001, Ron B. Wilson experienced both shock and denial. He saw people of different ethnicities speak a common language – that of grief. He also saw frontline workers rush to the spot; firemen trying to rescue people, and store owners giving away essentials to the distraught.


These displays of human strength amid an unprecedented calamity struck a chord with the documentary photographer, and armed with his camera, Ron began his journey 30 years ago. He hasn’t stopped since. Sharing these experiences at the Xposure International Photography Festival on Friday evening in a seminar titled ‘Resilience’, Ron shared that the purpose behind his images was to trigger people to be more engaged with global events.


He also shared interesting photography lessons he learnt from these projects. He emphasised on looking at things creatively and said that drawing inspiration from photographers of different genres and countries was a must for those looking to expand their outlook and understanding. He also spoke to budding photographers about establishing a deep connection with the places they visit and the people they meet. 


“I see pictures as interesting metaphors for the human condition”, he said, adding, “we often think that social media has not left a single inch of the world undiscovered, but when you are a photographer, you find so many remote places with stories etched into their by lanes which are left behind by the world of social media.”


Ron says that he does not choose any of his projects. Rather, they choose him. “Whether it was the streets of New York City on a day like 9/11 or being able to travel to a place like the Chernobyl power plant, these projects came to me and changed my life. I firmly believe that things happen for a reason and this year, I had ample time to reflect on how I saw resilient people across different countries, situations and tragedies,” he concluded reflecting on his life in the past year since the outbreak of a global health crisis. 


The photojournalist, who has used his lenses to capture several crucial moments of history, from the tragedy of 9/11 to the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, spent the recent quarantine period to write his first book Resilience, which blends his travel stories from places such as Cuba and India to South Africa and Morocco.


Xposure 2021 brings together over 400 photographers from different corners of the world to share their most celebrated works and inspire the people. 

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