The power of photojournalism is that whenever there is a newsworthy event of interest across the nation or around the globe there always seems to be select images that become associated with the event.
I learned about the tragic shooting in Colorado Friday morning as I arrived at a peer educator training workshop that my agency is supporting here in Kingston. Devon, a law student at the University of West Indies asked me about it. He had seen the reports on CNN that morning. I do not watch TV here and had not heard any news that morning, so I was unaware. He told me to go online and look at the news, which I did.
The images accompanying the story conveyed the tragedy right off. The first picture I saw was a distraught person carrying a picture of their family member trying to find out if that person was one of the victims. The other picture I saw that stood out was of two people crying and hugging each other.
These photos ran in newspapers across the United States and on the news sites online. I believe these images are important because they convey the human element of such tragedies. Unfortunately, there are many tragedies that occur every day that are not visually documented and as a consequence ignored.
On a personal note, I did not realise until I was on facebook looking at some of my friends posts that the photographer who took the photos is Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Barry Gutierrez formerly of the now defunct Rocky Mountain News. Back in the day when Barry had just completed his sophomore year of studying photojournalism at Western Kentucky University I hired him for his first newspaper internship. Back then I saw the talent he had for storytelling through his images. Barry was very good at connecting with his subjects on a personal level and made images that went deeper. I am proud to have a connection with Barry and glad to see him continue to do the hard work of photojournalism.
As for me I am about halfway through my Peace Corps Response service here in Jamaica. I am working as a video documentation specialist for the agency Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition. I am interested in setting up a “through their eyes” type of project in which we would get simple video cameras in the hands of peer educators and have them film members of our target populations to get good on the ground footage to show the needs of these people. To do this project I need about a half dozen to dozen simple video cameras donated to my agency. Something like the flip video cameras would be great. Please contact me if you are interested in assisting with this project.