Photographs by Peter Turnley
Introduction: This is a significant occasion at The Online Photographer. It marks the first time we've published a significant body of original photojournalism. The following 50-picture photo essay is a World exclusive of new work shot a little more than a week ago by my friend the great photojournalist Peter Turnley.
To put you in context, the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti killed as many people as were killed by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima that ended World War II, in roughly the same time frame. Coverage of every phase of crises is important, with the earliest being usually the most noticed, but Peter has covered major earthquakes in Armenia, Iran, and Turkey, and he knows the whole story will have a much longer arc. He knows that the hardship continues, the human drama has phases and rhythms. Peter also speaks French fluently, which was tremendously helpful in enabling him to communicate with the average Haitian. He wanted to be able to talk to people, listen to them, hear their stories—and express to them his condolences, sorrow, and hopes for the future. The resulting essay is a narrative in pictures of a time three weeks after the event, after the shock has begun to subside, when the Haitian people are beginning to assess their losses, mourn and bury their dead, and start the struggle to rebuild and heal. It's a portrait of a people making their tentative first steps back to normal everyday living. As you'll see, these photographs don't linger on gore, degradation, and obliteration, even though those things are ever-present and impossible to ignore. They show the faces of the people and their enormous struggle to find life again after so much death. It was a moment between death and life.
The important thing to Peter is to do his part to keep the world's attention focused on the people of Haiti and their continuing recovery. For many of the people you're about to meet, the story of the earthquake will continue to unfold for years, certainly long after the swarming news photographers are gone and the torrent of aid has slowed to a trickle.
It remains to be seen how photojournalism will continue to evolve in the new millennium, through new media. One thing that's immediately obvious is that we can easily present many more pictures than a space-constrained newsmagazine. One thing that won't change is the enormous commitment of time, energy, money and skill needed to create such work—and our need to have not just one, but many different and distinctive photographic perspectives on events. Thanks to Peter, TOP can be part of that conversation.
A burial in the Grand Cimetière of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. With more than two hundred thousand people killed by the magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Haiti on Jan. 12, Haitians continue to bury their dead. Port-au-Prince, Feb. 1, 2010.
The General Hospital of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians have been left seriously injured. Jan. 31, 2010.
Irana Cemelus, 54, a victim of the Haitian earthquake, is buried by her family in the Grand Cimetière of Port-au-Prince. Feb.3, 2010.
With many churches and cathedrals destroyed by the earthquake, Haitians pray outdoors, near the Champs de Mars, Port-au-Prince. Sunday, Jan. 31.
A victim of the Haiti earthquake is brought to be prepared for burial at the the morgue of the General Hospital of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Jan.31.
Bemur Lidthany, 28, with her baby girl, Christaly Lidthany, born 25 minutes earlier at the Hopital de la Paix in Port-au-Prince. Jan. 31, 2010.
A food distribution near the Champs de Mars in central Port-au-Prince. Feb.1.
At the Hopital de la Paix of Port-au-Prince, a young man learns to walk with one leg after a recent amputation as a result of his serious injuries during the earthquake. Jan.31, 2010.
Several million people have been left homeless and/or injured. Many people still sleep outdoors in the streets. Delmas district, Port-au-Prince, Jan. 31, 2010.
Jean Grousse looks for his son, Gerd Belizaire, 33, in the morgue of the General Hospital of Port-au-Prince.
A young woman and her recently born baby are among the millions of Haitians who have been left homeless as a result of the Haiti earthquake. Near the Champs de Mars, Port-au-Prince. Jan. 31, 2010.
At the major outdoor market La Saline, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, men burn and butcher pigs that have been slaughtered. Feb. 2, 2010.
At a makeshift camp at the Champs de Mars, Haitians bath themselves outdoors. Jan. 31.
A young woman, with her right arm recently amputated, in a tent in front of the General Hospital of Port-au-Prince. Feb. 2.
A body is tagged with an identification number at the morgue of the General Hospital of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This one of thousands of dead bodies have been brought to this morgue since the earthquake. Jan. 31, 2010.
Haitians left homeless by the earthquake stand in line waiting for food near the city of Fontamara, on the road to Rail. Feb. 2, 2010.
A makeshift tent encampment. Feb. 3.
The General Hospital of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Jan. 31, 2010.
Jean Grousse looks for his son, Gerd Belizaire, 33, in the morgue of the General Hospital of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He could not find him. Jan. 31, 2010.
Micheline Merius, 22, homeless since the earthquake, sleeps nightly on the streets of Delmas 10/12. Feb. 2.
At the General Hospital, Feb. 3.
Between Port-au-Prince and Leogane. Feb. 3.
Champs de Mars. Jan. 31.
A body being taken for burial outside the morgue of the General Hospital. Jan. 31, 2010.
A morning food distribution run by the World Food Program in Delmas 62, Port-au-Prince. Feb. 1.
Dr. Lora Chamberlain, from Chicago, examines X-rays of an injured man in a temporary medical tent outside of the hospital. She is a volunteer with AMHE, the Association of Haitian Physicians Abroad. Feb. 2, 2010.
United Nations soldiers oversee a food distribution in central Port-au-Prince. Feb. 2.
Slowly, daily life commerce returns to Port-au-Prince. Feb.2, 2010.
A relative of a dead victim of the earthquake accompanies a coffin on the way to burial. Jan. 31.
Dr. Heather Costello, a volunteer in Haiti from the University of Chicago, North Shore, working with IMC, the International Medical Corps, examines an injured man in a temporary medical tent outside of the General Hospital. Feb.1, 2010.
A food line outside the Hopital de la Paix, Port-au-Prince. Jan. 31.
A volunteer doctor, Dr. John Von Thron, an orthopedic surgeon from Jacksonville, Florida, takes off the cast of Meplisea Servius outside the General Hospital of Port-au-Prince. Feb. 1, 2010.
An injured man is brought to the General Hospital, Jan. 31.
Sunday prayers near the Champs de Mars in central Port-au-Prince. Jan. 31.
A food distribution near the Champs de Mars. Feb.1, 2010.
A food distribution line. Central Port-au-Prince. Feb.1, 2010.
The Grand Cimetière of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Jan. 31, 2010.
A prayer service for victims of the Haiti earthquake, outside a hospital in Leogane, Haiti. Feb. 2, 2010.
Central Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Jan. 31.
Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Jan. 31, 2010.
A few weeks after the earthquake, while many Haitians lack food, life comes back to the grand market, La Saline, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Feb. 3, 2010.
Leogane, Haiti, Feb. 2.
Thousands of homeless Haitians live in a makeshift encampment at the Champs de Mars in central Haiti. Jan. 31, 2010.
Fritz Larose, 59, right, buries his son Clifford, 24 in the Grand Cimetière of Port-au-Prince, Feb. 1, 2010. He lost both his daughter and son when their house collapsed during the earthquake.
A mother and son in a makeshift encampment for homeless Haitians in the Champs de Mars, Port-au-Prince. Jan. 31.
An injured victim of the earthquake at the General Hospital of Port-au-Prince. Feb. 1.
Thousands of victims of the Haiti earthquake live in a makeshift tent encampment in the Champs de Mars. Jan. 31, 2010.
Homeless victims at an encampment on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Feb. 2.
Port-au-Prince, Jan. 31, 2010.
A young man accompanies the casket of a dead victim on the way to burial. Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 31, 2010.
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Featured Comment by Pema Wangmo: "The next time I'm about to complain about something I will see the image of the mother and her son in a makeshift shelter: a piece of cardboard(!) against a pole with their few belongs piled up. Thank you Peter for making it real.
Featured Comment by Heather Costello, MD: "I was one of the doctors there and am incredibly impressed by Peter's 'eye' for the devastation and chaos. Yes, there are many photos out there, but these actually show the truth. True art from true suffering. Peter's empathy is apparent. None of these were 'sensationalist' only very real and very honest."
[Heather is shown in picture #30 of this set —Ed.]
Featured Comment by Gilles: "I've tried to wrap my head around 200,000 dead. Millions homeless. The one thing that unfortunately even fantastic photojournalism such as this can't convey is the full sensory experience of such a tragedy. The sounds and smells are missing otherwise I think we would all be overwhelmed completely. I can't imagine the task of walking through the open morgues in the heat to take these images. The images stand mute without the cacophony of the moans of the injured, and the wailing of the mourners and the newborn children. The feeling of concrete dust gritting in your teeth while you seek to capture a story.
"Thank you Peter Turnley for giving us this glimpse into a tragedy. I think most of us while critiquing these images soon forget that a human was behind the camera and that no matter how much experience they may have, they still must be overwhelmed being present at these scenes."