I’m not a photojournalist. I like to wonder what my life might be like if photography were my career. I have worked alongside photojournalists. I admire what it is they do. And while I gain a deep and satisfying sense of accomplishment from my own photography, I cannot help but have a bit of envy for the talent, skill, fortitude and grace with which these journalists make their trade.
The power of the photograph — the noble lie a photograph tells us the viewer — can come in its depiction of reality. It is a lie because a photograph is anything but reality. Nonetheless it is a noble lie in that the photograph attempts the impossible in spite of it being impossible. And for a moment, for a fraction of a second, we choose to believe it has succeeded.
As much as Aristotle would have us believe we are creatures of language, we are creatures of vision. And in the wake of tragedy such as what has struck Haiti, it is with our sense of vision that we turn to attempt to make some sense of what has happened.
I want to share a few collections of images from Haiti. But more than just refer to these galleries — incredible in their own right — I want to highlight a few comments from some of the professional photojournalists I respect as they have shared some of their own thoughts on Haiti and photojournalism.
Hi-res: Earthquake in Haiti: Images from Los Angeles Times photographers Carolyn Cole, Rick Loomis and Brian Vander Brug.
Haiti From Above: A gallery of aerial photographs of Haiti collected by Tim Reese, Assistant Directory of Multimedia for the Sacramento Bee.
Earthquake in Haiti: A gallery of wire service images of the Haiti earthquake presented by Alan Taylor for the Boston Globe.
Haiti, Alive: A gallery posted to the New York Times photography blog, “Lens”, collecting glimpses of life in Haiti during the 20th century. The images were drawn from the archives of the New York Times and of the National Geographic Society.
Reflections: Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune photojournalist, offers some quiet, respectful and considered candor on Haiti and the role of photojournalism on his blog, “Shooting from the Hip.”
Haiti: Chip Litherland, a ten-year photojournalism veteran based in Florida, adds some of his own thoughts about the tragedy and the power of the photograph. This observation particularly resonated with me:
The photos are what people are sharing. Twitter posts about journalists’ posts from the ground. Facebook postings with links to photo galleries. Photos. Not video. Not multimedia. Not a talking head in front of rubble waxing poetic about what a producer saw earlier in the day. Not showing up to the airport, setting up a live shot, saying you’re there covering the story and leaving. Photos. Photos that need no text. Just space to breathe and be seen.
Like Moths to a Flame: Matt Lutton and M. Scott Brauer present some thought-provoking opinions on the media’s role in covering tragedy on their blog “dvafoto”. The article begins by highlighting the psychological impact of the frenetic scrum around a recently rescued woman and continues to talk about the inherent contradictions involved in covering tragedy.