After Photography

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Images from Haiti helped define the story of the earthquakes devastation, but what did they say about the state of photojournalism? Fred Ritchin, formerNew York Times Magazine photo editor; photography and imaging professor at NYU; director of; and author of After Photography, discusses how affordable technology and digital manipulation have changed the world of photojournalism. And New York based photojournalist Matt McDermott talks about his photographs from Haiti, including the iconic shot of a boy being pulled from the rubble.

What do you think has been the most defining image from the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake? Describe it or post a link to the picture below!


Matt McDermott and Fred Ritchin

Comments [20]

eric henderson from brooklyn

A day late, but, looking at the situation and reading Devon's comment, I am of that same mind. I am a photographer, but I believe not all situations are meant to be documented the same way.

However, I don't believe that there is no reasonable way to take photos in this situation. This would start with clear thought and a point of view.

I've been on photo mission trips to Brasil and Morocco and have watched people just ripping off photos of shanty towns/favelas right in front of residents. They said the photos could do good. I said, yes, that's possible - now, show me the plan you have for your work and the people you're working with and the narrative that will accompany them. ...Silence.

Photos can help, but without thought and a philosophy of taking them and their use and without involving people who live in these places, the likelihood of voyeurism, opportunism is nearly 100%.

Once the earth literally crumbles, we don't need pictures we've already seen, i.e. 3w tragedies from earthquakes to poverty to aids. We need to help. And if we take pictures, let's find out from the people there how they can do the most good.

I'm not saying there aren't photographers doing this. I'm open to seeing/hearing who they are, though.


Feb. 18 2010 12:21 AM
the truth!! from BKNY

Devon re-read your posts 5 & are clearly disturbed by what the journalists' did...even though it was their job you are upset about it

Feb. 17 2010 12:20 PM
the truth!! from BKNY

FYI MIKE..It was the first thing out of the guests mouth and you need to read the caption under the pic smart boy...say "looter"

Feb. 17 2010 12:16 PM
Devon Wright from Brooklyn, NY

@truth: i'm not saying that Americans are not opportunist. While we obviously have privilege we need to rethink and approach things with compassion and an intelligence today, since "the world is our oyster."

Feb. 17 2010 11:46 AM
the truth!! from BKNY

DEVON...Americans are mostly opportunists! and the world is their/our oyster!

Feb. 17 2010 11:42 AM
the truth!! from BKNY

HJS - I would find something to eat somewhere also, by any means necessary but...."looting" just doesn't seem like the proper word is all.

I am having a problem submitting responses tech folk!

Feb. 17 2010 11:40 AM
Mike Steph from Brooklyn

Truth, you need to listen closer. No one on the show called these people looters - they were discussing the fact that Time magazine captioned the picture with that word.

Feb. 17 2010 11:08 AM
Tom from Murray Hill, NYC

It is morally WRONG to follow natural disasters to take photographs for self promotion disguised as charity.

These people aren't being helped by these photos, but the photographers are being paid.

Tell these earthquake (or tsunami) chasers to stay home and start thinking about their own practice.

Tell them to go read Vilem Flusser's Towards a Philosophy on Photography.


Let's help struggling people!! Stop humiliating them!!!

Feb. 17 2010 11:07 AM
Johna from New York

So many of these white journalists believe the black and brown bodies are akin to animals in the wild, even in death. It's very National Pornographic...I mean Geographic.

Feb. 17 2010 11:03 AM
hjs from 11211

i would loot after 5 days!

here's a suprise the photo link does not work, i guess WNYC isn't ready for 100's of people clicking on their links.
and we can't submit comments either. get it together already!

Feb. 17 2010 11:00 AM
Devon Wright from brooklyn, ny

It's OK for Americans to photograph brown bodies overseas after a disaster. Foreigners could not do this on our soil. There would have been an eruption if 9/11 was documented like this.

How does this help. It lacks compassion.

Feb. 17 2010 11:00 AM
Anon from Staten Island

2 Haiti photos that hit me (I don't know if these links will work):

(woman in rubble)

(two distraught children)

Feb. 17 2010 10:56 AM
Fatima Zahara from Union City

There was a young girl about 12 or 13 with glasses featured on CNN. She died couple of days later from her injuries. Just can’t get her out of my mind.

Feb. 17 2010 10:51 AM

let's be honest about that lebanon photo -- @ least one is a "poor" nyu student -- after reading "the rest of the story" i found my first impression to be accurate and the image entirely informative!

Feb. 17 2010 10:51 AM
Justin Blejer from brooklyn

This is an interesting history of manipulation in photography.

Feb. 17 2010 10:50 AM
Devon Wright from brooklyn, ny

Can't believe WNYC is reporting about this.

Americans can go abroad and photograph brown bodies being pulled out of rubble. I wonder how we might have felt if a foreigner photographed people being pulled out of the rubble on 9/11, on our own turf.

Photographers rushed over to Haiti to stick cameras in their faces seeking the next award winning heart breaking photo. Truly, it lacks compassion.

Feb. 17 2010 10:49 AM
Nick from NYC


Feb. 17 2010 10:49 AM
the truth!! from BKNY

OK wrong right out of the gate! Are you all calling these people "looters" I wonder what you would be after 5 days of not eating!! OMG

Feb. 17 2010 10:48 AM
Nick from NYC

Classic - the duo from 1994 invasion of Haiti captures everything that's ridiculous about our willful self-delusion about media images!

Feb. 17 2010 10:46 AM

interesting -- for a decade I have considered photography/photojournalism as journalism for the "too busy to read" crowd (with audio fitting into this category somewhere too)

...certainly look forward to this conversation tho...

Feb. 17 2010 09:09 AM

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