Sara Lewkowics is an American photographer with a degree in visual communications from Ohio University. She is most well known for her work that was published by Time Magazine in an article named ‘Photographer as Witness: A Portrait of Domestic Violence” in 2013. This work, and her work in general, has been awarded the ‘Ville de Perpignan Rémi Ochlik Award in 2013.
Photographer as Witness was published in 2013, after Lewkowics originally released the images on ‘fotovisura’, photography website under the title ‘Maggie and Shane’. Depicted in the images was Shane, 31, abusing his 19 year old girlfriend Maggie, the series was accompanied by as easy written by Lewkowics herself. Her initial intentions were to photograph the couple to “paint a portrait of the catch-22 of being a released ex-convict: even though they are physically free, the metaphorical prison of stigma doesn’t allow them to truly escape.” One day an argument between Shane, the ex-convict, and Maggie broke out over a girl that was flirting with Shane in a bar that they had just left. Once home, the argument continued and escalated to Shane physically attacking Maggie infant of Lewkowics and the couples young daughter, Memphis. Lewkowics photographed the whole event, with a short break to ensure that he emergency services had been contacted. Shane was then arrested and Maggie has since left him. Once Time Magazine released the images Lewkowics received much criticism and questioning as to why she carried on photographing and did not intervene. She responded to the internet critics by stating that, as the police told her, getting involved physically would have made the incident worse and put herself at risk and Maggie at even further risk of injury. The images have since won many awards including the L’iris d’Or Award in 2014.
Lewkowics work exposes that dangers of domestic abuse and in doing this shows true raw emotions. The series gives an insight to the lives of people living with an abuser and who quickly they can be put in danger. The images are extremely personal as we see really people and real emotions, the domestic environment of the images also makes them feel a lot more raw and personal. Also the fact that they feature a child make them a lot more shocking to the viewer and they hit home a lot more.
These images have inspired me to create my own work on this subject. I will take inspiration from the body language, facial expressions, and construction of the images. Like Donna Ferratos work, these images raise awareness for domestic violence and the victims involved.