Thoughts on Haiti
I’m reading a lot of heart breaking stories on Haiti, and seeing some horrific, editorial photos regarding the disaster over there in Haiti. Unfortunately, they put themselves on a map, literally. In an age where most highs school kids/adults don’t even know the states in North America, let alone where Haiti sits geographically in the world.
At one point I did want to be a newspaper photographer, going on location, documenting the world’s events and people, but the more photos I look at from Haiti, the more I realize I don’t think I have it in me. As people are hurting, or screaming for their loved ones, how can I just stand there and aim a camera at them, snapping pictures?
You can objectify it to some point, and when I’ve taken pictures at funerals, to some degree, that’s what I do. Trying to be emotionally detached is one thing, but the scale and magnitude of Haiti’s disaster far exceed a single death. I’m reading stories of Doctors working 24-48 hrs straight under obscene conditions trying to stem the tide of death, I just don’t know. I would feel inadequate. Yes, you are trying to save lives, your skillset is much more useful towards helping others, all I’m doing is taking pictures.
In some situations, for example during the Iran elections where there were civil unrest, or the strict censorship of media in China. That’s where I think photography, and telling a story can help humanity. By exposing, or documenting atrocities so that others may learn from them. I’m not going to cite George Santayana’s quote, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it” because I feel it’s an exercise in futility. Because no matter what stories those pictures tell, we seem to repeat our mistakes over and over again.
I guess the one thing pictures and images from Haiti do help is, that it allows people over here, living in luxury compared to over there. Walking in our supermarkets, using things that we take for granted. Trivial things, such as clean tap water coming out of our faucets, sanitation, heat. It allows us a glimpse into their world, their pain. Gives us pause, to be thankful for what we do have, and to donate, and try to make a difference, whether it be in our own little surroundings, or somewhere else in our small little planet.