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Author: Rod Raglin
Photography Changes Oppression
When Freyja stumbles onto a street protest where police kill unarmed dissenters, her life changes from being a nonpolitical photographer into a social activist. Yet the transformation comes from the love of her creativity of photography rather than the yearning to support a politician.
Rod Raglin’s camera lens is focused on key ethical questions with his protagonist Freyja in the coming-of-age, social thriller The Big Picture. Raglin asks how do use our creativity to change the world. How do we define crime when we can view police and national players working with drug lords? Why do we imprison neighborhood addicts who require healthcare? Through Freyja, he shows the growing rage at economic deals that benefit a few as they torture the community.
Freyja’s stumbling into a new perspective occurs when she took pictures of police killing peaceful protestors midst the smoke of tear gas. Her pictures could have been the lead story for her newspaper contact if the paper was not visited by PR handlers for the establishment.
In the ensuing events, Freyja discovers her pictures erased and becomes the target of interests that want her out of the picture. Yet the lucky chance of having a drug lord brother comes to her aid with political pulls she never imagined.
Follow Freyja through her journey of self discovery to see whether she picks up the camera for causes or shuns causes. Feel her anxiety as her insides are torn in dealing with her family’s acceptance of the drug lord brother. The same brother whose drugs are killing her younger brother. Watch her grow in controlling how she sees the world around her.
Raglin pulls the reader into Freyja’s view point by bringing us into her mind. We jump for the joy of catching life and truth on the camera as she struggles to become known. We worry when we see her family home as she moves through the cramped apartment to tend to a sickly grandfather. And we choke with the stifled air of the family’s loss of income.
We see her churn with her decisions one moment, then change in another. Her tossing comes from the forces of family commitment and economic needs. She embodies many people who struggle with money. Does she turn aside from her love of photography to find a low-paying job, just to pay some rent money? Does she accept the windfall of her gallery success that will bring her fame? Or does she burst with anger that her wealthy drug lord brother has bought her work to put her into a vice of obligation?
Raglin also surrounds the reader with the world of Freyja’s Vancouver. Readers can bask in the shiny restaurants of Yaletown. Then they can walk with her through streets of her old neighborhood where short factories lay drooping over rail lines as piers jut their heads through dismal clouds.
But Raglin’s “Big Picture” only emerges after Freyja finds an old friend, Marty, who has organized part of the recent protest. Through Marty, Raglin reveals to Freyja how the drug problem really benefits key governmental and police people as well as the drug lords. That the problem is highlighted by taking advantage of people whose lives remain barren of hope. Instead of the Big Picture viewing the problem as a health problem, the Big Picture aids monied interests ranging from the profit makers in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan. Does a connection exist to the killings by drug cartels in Mexico or her streets in Vancouver?
Raglin isn’t content to show the problems of just drugs. Look at the rage built up in Freyja as she watches her younger brother almost die. The rage intensifies when she sees the way money is offered as bribes. The twists of control from her drug lord brother that even causes her eviction from a friend’s apartment builds up in the same pattern as that seen through domestic abuse. Could she be thrown into a situation where the killing of her brother becomes a desperate answer?
How does Raglin see any solution to such social problems? Could the right media become an answer as long as the target reaches people? Freyja’s initial mistake of going to one of Vancouver’s top newspaper fails as her photos become erased by the opposition. But the use of an alternative media exposes the government coverup of the deaths by police from the monied interests. A media contact from Europe believed Freyja could show the world through an alternative media. That international media could open eyes to the extent of the drug-money connection.
Freyja has the potential to offer an impact. Her friend, Marty, suggests a potential to change a political party. Which policies might help society? Yet Marty could become coopted by compromising away the goals of change.
Read The Big Picture to find answers about how change happens through the eyes of photographer Freyja. Does Freyja embody the average person? Many lives fumble from new economic hurdles so time fleets away, denying people of the chance to research the Big Picture. Meanwhile the large scope of forces hem many into a poor neighbor. But like Freyja, maybe others can find a creative solution to expose the links of social problems.