NEW ALBANY, Ind. — The intensity in the girl’s eyes burned back at the camera lens, captured forever with a click of the shutter.
“Look at those eyes,” IU Southeast Chancellor Ray Wallace said, studying the picture. “She is so mad at me because I have outstayed my welcome. I have taken too many shots, and she is not happy. I had to leave.”
Wallace took the photograph, called “Soweto Princess,” in 2006 in an urban area of the city of Johannesburg in Gauteng, South Africa, a violent place during the anti-apartheid times the country faced.
The photograph is one of many on display at Wallace’s exhibit, “Documenting Directions: Global Spaces and Faces,” in the Barr Gallery of the IU Southeast Ogle Center. Dozens of images feature landscapes, points of interest and moments of time in the everyday lives of people from around the world — places like Northern Ireland, China and Vietnam.
Wallace said the theme of his work is to find connections, symmetry and inspiration as he explores the global community.
“I hope to convey that you can be anywhere — all over the world, in your back yard — and you can find something that makes a statement to you,” he said. “I want to show how similar we all are. It’s not about where the photo is shot, it’s about what the subject is doing.”
The exhibit will be on display through Oct. 28 in the Barr Gallery as part of the 2015 Louisville Photo Biennial.
Images like “Soweto Princess” have left a lasting impression on Wallace and the way he approaches his work.
“It’s a fine line between documentary photography and voyeurism, and I was coming really close,” he said of the picture of the South African girl. “Whenever I’m getting ready to do some street photography, I always look at that picture first. I always say, ‘Now remember, you’re a photographer, but you can’t get so far into these people’s lives that you’re creating a story.'”
Wallace focuses his pictorial work on travel, landscape and street/documentary photography. While he now works mostly with full-frame digital images, he still shoots 35mm and medium format images. His photographs of Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, South Africa, Vietnam, China, Thailand, Japan, India and the U.S. have been displayed in galleries across several countries.