People, power and photography The Conversation

Critic Susan Sontag famously argued that “without photographs, there is no war”. With smartphones and the internet so readily accessible, photography has become a democratic way to hold power to account, ignite change and raise awareness. Photographs have tremendous power, serving as witness to atrocity, injustice and shared humanity. In 2020 alone, Darnella Frazier sparked public outrage and ongoing mass protests by bearing witness to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Department officers. Horrifying images of bushfires led to an outpouring of support. Amateur photos of coronavirus patients and empty toilet paper shelves made the pandemic real. Citizen witnesses kept Black Lives Matter protesters safe.

Watch Dr Cherine Fahd, Professor Jane Lydon and Dr Chris Salisbury as they discuss the power of photography and how we can all be agents of change.

Presented by State Library of Queensland and The Conversation, the world's leading free, fact-based news source written by academics and edited by journalists. The Conversation is an online independent source of news and views, drawn from university, CSIRO and research institute experts and delivered direct to the public.


Twenty is a photography exhibition reflecting on the last 20 years in Queensland. Documentary photography plays a vital role in capturing the events and experiences that shape our lives.