There are many ways to find a voice but not many people get the opportunity. Graffiti was a voice created by those with no voice in their society. It was open to anyone, it was an opportunity to find skills and hone them. You can jump through hoops in an institution and find a voice. You can build a reputation in a field but a lot of other options are not open to everyone, although a lot are at the same time. Some people come into graffiti for example and can’t find a voice of any standing technically or otherwise and will find themselves even more frustrated than when they had no other opportunities. There is no easy option to finding a voice unless you drop your standards really low. In some ways that can be the scourge that graffiti has to deal with but even if people drop the standards it takes nothing away from high standards. They can be ignored but then the next gauge is effort. If you make no effort then that is even worse by far.
You have to at least be seen trying, or creating work to some degree. When I see a bunch of messy tags on a bus stop I think of the effort of finding a voice in a society that doesn’t make the job easy. As I said graffiti doesn’t make the job easy either and you see people strive for decades to create a voice and keep a voice visible on the street. Not everyone can get into art school or has the drive necessary socially or otherwise to get through art school. It can come down to funds, social issues, mental health and any number of problems that are inherent in society. People at the same time will claim that graffiti isn’t an art form and is simply territorial pissing, who is to say carpet bombing a foreign nation isn’t much different? The territory is the core identity of every nation and ideas of private property and public property is written into law. The reason they belittle graffiti has more to do with the status quo who don’t want their territory pissed on.
The real question is, what is the upper crust of society giving back? Charity, food programs, religious opportunities, and sponsorships are not the answer in all cases to finding a voice for everyone. Charity can be like closing the door on your foot. What if education was free? I remember I knew a young man who had mental issues and he would study art at TAFE I felt for him when the art departments were closed down. He struggled to finish the course because in a way he just wanted to be there working when he felt well.
At the end of the day, photographers will make people the subject and they are existing in a photograph. The person operating the lens is allowed to exist in a bigger world as the photograph is the voice, so many people simply become subjects or actors in a meta-story about society at the time. We have all seen photographs of the down and out and those that cross the lens although they are the people who need a voice first and foremost in a society that doesn’t allow it.