Rear Curtain is an online and print magazine dedicated to visual storytelling. As the creative team behind the magazine describes it, “Images hold the potential to share some of the most powerful stories that connect us no matter where in the world we live. Finding stories that link people to one another and that reflect how we are all the same can make the world a better place.” Through very different, very specific stories, universal themes are explored. Rear Curtain is unique in that it both exhibits the work of the very best visual storytellers, and it offers a forum for those of us who aspire.
Last year, Editor-in Chief Ray Ketcham and Managing Editor Sabrina Henry traveled to Thailand on a one-month Rear Curtain field trip. The two of them took their cameras, their curiosity, and the philosophy described above, and set out in search of stories. Friends like me were impatient to see their images, but Ray and Sabrina let the experience sink in so they could tell the strongest stories possible.
It was worth the wait. I received my copy of the special Thailand issue last week, and it’s been on my mind ever since.
Ray and Sabrina didn’t spend their time taking photographs of iconic landmarks in the golden hours at the edges of day. They didn’t seek out — or worse, manufacture — scenes that depicted their preconceived notions of “Thailand.” They traveled to connect with people, to listen, and to truly discover. That approach is surprisingly rare, perhaps because it’s not easy. It requires a personal investment that has nothing to do with money. It takes a willingness to slow down, reach out, and regard another culture with sincere respect.
The stories in this issue deepen my thinking about travel, and travel photography. What’s the point, really? Do I want to visit a foreign place and view it as a museum (or a zoo) and come home with trophy images? Or do I want to have a genuine exchange? Can I strive to overcome the challenges of shyness and language to make a connection that, even if just briefly, matters? Ray and Sabrina couldn’t have made the images they did any other way. They tell real stories of real people. And I know they were changed by the experience.
Sabrina and Ray are two generous souls who spend much of their time encouraging other visual storytellers. But they are also artists. It’s so nice to see their work in the spotlight. I hope you’ll take a look.