Tuesday, February 23, 2010

People / Haiti Disclaimer

I had to shoot a fire/suspected arson a few nights ago. It always amazes me how open some people can be in a tragic situation. This mother, her mother and two kids were woken up by a neighbor banging on the door telling them to get out of the house. They didn't have time to get sweaters or coats and had been outside in a Utah winter for at least 25 minutes by the time I arrived. I chatted with them for a bit, they were obviously still shook up and worrying about where they were going to sleep. I asked if I could shoot a few photos for the paper and they said that was fine. I stuck around and we talked for a bit and I started to wonder why they were so open and friendly to a stranger hired to be privy to their problems. These things have been in my mind quite a bit since returning from Haiti. There has been quite a bit of talk about the morality and ethics of photojournalists in Haiti following the quake.

I read some of it and had to open up a bit so I wouldn't get too defensive while reading the criticisms of some of the media working down there. I am not afraid of good dialogue so I left a few comments on some of these critical blog postings. My feeling was that, in some cases 'being there' and documenting someones life is an implicit display of respect for the value of the situation. Joy and her mother Sandra (pictured) further cemented this idea for me. There is an entire discussion regarding photographic approach and sensationalism which belongs to this examination, but for this post, I'll just assume that you know what I mean. The problem is that there are hundreds of variables in every sit uation where photos are taken in the name of photojournalism, so an application of some overarching philosophy has it's faults. But as far as this little family is concerned, I felt like they were open to me in that moment because that respect was apparent. Maybe not, but I wanted to at least precede Haiti photos with some sort of introduction into how I feel about what I do and those in the photographs.

1 comment:

Miss said...

"documenting someones life is an implicit display of respect for the value of the situation"

I love this...that makes so much sense. You seem to do it with such delicacy and respect. I love your pictures