Why I became a news photographer

May 15, 2008

The images of the earthquake relief effort in China have been horrifying and deeply moving and remind me what has always been so compelling about my job – the ease and speed with which still pictures can impart so much readily understood information to so many people.   

 Earth 6




Earth 10


Earth 9

Earth 07

China 8

Earth 14

And what brilliant pictures they are.


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[…] Check it out here. […]

Posted by Why I became a news photographer | The Click | Report as abusive

The images you post about the earthquake are totally offensive, I do not believe that we need to see pictures of dead children to get the impact of the damage. As big as Rueters is i cannot believe they allow this kind of thing.

Posted by Diana | Report as abusive

Shocking! Pictures that touch everybody’s heart.

Posted by Gabriel Sham | Report as abusive

It’s pathetic that you are boasting of your “brilliance” when people need more hands to help.

Posted by Prashant | Report as abusive

shocking, but not offensive. your photos speak the truth of this horrific tragedy. my prayers go out to all who have been affected.

Posted by Tenzin Namgyal | Report as abusive

These photographs are phenomenal. Rather than offensive, they are powerful, emotional and make one want to act, as well as hinting at the true scope and measure of the disaster. I disagree with Diana- we DO need to see this type of work, since we cannot understand- and in reality will not accept- the reality of the carnage without imagery. Words cannot do it justice; also, people want to sanitize and whitewash events- its like pretending people in war get shot and just fall down. No, this is necessary, as well as excellently and expertly created, for us to understand the true nature of events. We shouldnt be afraid of reality just because it hurts.

Posted by Eric | Report as abusive

I think it is fine to show death related to this event it is part of life. It is the reality of what is happening at the site of the China earthquake. I only think that if we were presented more of this imagery in relation to the war conflicts we join into as Americans, we would more readily condemn them. My sympathies go to the people affected. Thank You, for your work.

Posted by Nick Hoffman | Report as abusive

Add pix 1 of the current Editor’s Choice
to your group, David. It says it all.
(backlit dad)

Posted by Paul M. Verhagen | Report as abusive

photographers are doing there part: communicating and shouldn’t be critized for getting the images out as they have a much greater impact than another hand trying to help, i.e. people moved to help.

Posted by sinohog | Report as abusive

[…] Why I became a news photographerOvertaken by eventsThe Life of an Aussie ImmigrantStrange… what us?Training for the unforeseenShouting into the windA postcard from MalawiThe Boris and Ken showStuck at the base of EverestSpring in London – at last […]

Posted by fotowarung.bazuki.com » Blog Archive » Why I became a news photographer | Report as abusive

This is a wonderful work and just after the victims my thoughts go to the team of hard-working photographers there. Nevermind the stupid comments, just keep the world informed. People WILL always make better decisions if you give them better, faster, freer information. That some of them will stay morons all their life is something you can’t do anything about.
Free press is one of the most beautiful achievement of democracy and you guys are the spearhead of it.

Posted by Lucas | Report as abusive

Special congrats to the photographer who even in that sad situation bite his nails to take these photographs which is actually helping people to know the aftermaths of the quake.Without wasting your time blaming the photographer,lend your hands to help those people

Posted by robinpaul | Report as abusive

The recent magnitude 7.9 earthquake in China has compelled me to take pause. My heart drops to the floor when I see the media images of children trapped helplessly under building rubble, or the images of a person grieving over a seriously injured relative or friend sprawled out on a gurny in some rescue shelter.

Just a few weeks ago, there was a rare magnitude 5.4 earthquake here in the midwestern United States where I live (in particular, in the state of Indiana, near the New Madrid fault); this of course is a relatively modest earthquake by any standard. Not to make light of matters, but there’s that popular saying, “You’ll dig your way to China,” which has a measure of truth to it relative to where I live geographically. Longitude-wise, China is roughly 180 degrees on the other side of the globe from where I live. Two earthquakes, each just about opposite the other (7.9, and 5.4, respectively): Mother Earth is going through a series of growing pains.

Seeing the images in China informs me of just how much smaller the world has become, especially in the age of global mass media. The Information Age.

I tell the following not to come off as being some kind of hero, or somebody special, but rather to illustrate the following: how life is so fragile, how valuable it is, and how on those rare occasions we can collectively feel our common humanity. I was in Biloxi, Mississippi during late August 2005, stationed there in the military on training. Biloxi was virtually ground zero during that time as Hurricane Katrina struck the area. We were on the eastward side of the hurricane, where among the most intense winds and storm surge are. I was held up in a bomb-resistant shelter on base for about a week, riding out the hurricane and its aftermath. We were no more than a mile from the beach. The storm surge came in and flooded the base, the winds kicked up, and kicked up, and let their fierceness be known by threatening with a rumbling howl to rip the boarded-up shelter doors from their frames. After all was said and done, after that week, my car was near-totaled by roof debris that had blown off the top of a nearby building on base. Power was out all over. Phone service, even cellular phone service, was out for 48 hours. Huge trees next to my living quarters were blown over like nothing. The casinos, restaurants, and apartments that had luxuriously lined the beach the day before the hurricane hit were now washed away. In or about one of the apartment buildings that had once stood on the beach, over 30 people were killed. As I left the base for the final time, miles and miles of devastation. Nearby, off base, a woman with her child were walking along a ravaged street in a ravaged neighborhood, apparently searching for food and water. As the car I was riding in was about to pass by them both, we pulled over alongside them. I rolled down the car window and handed her an extra jug of water. She was grateful. So was I: They had survived like everybody else there out and about that day. We drove further on, to home. Even 25 to 50 miles inland, trees were blown over at an angle and buildings were damaged. I never want to live through that again, but it further reinforced two important values. One is, despite our petty sh*tty little differences, we are all of the same race–the human race–which is highlighted by the extraordinary lengths many of us will go to help each other under extraordinary circumstances, such as huge natural disasters. The other is that life is fragile, so fragile.

I hope that no other bad things happen in China in relation to that recent earthquake there, such as huge aftershocks, or large dams giving away from cracks cause by the earthquake. Keep the people there in one’s prayers.

Posted by Ross D. | Report as abusive

please help china

Posted by Alex | Report as abusive

first of all, thank you for international help. being a chinese, I feel badly sorry about the earthquake. Althouh china economy development is rapidly and stead-going,we still needed rescue player,medicine,food and so on.secondly,international media shoud enable world people to know the natural disaster.
please don’t critic the chinese govenment,I think the govenment do his best for relief.

Posted by Alex | Report as abusive

Being a photographer myself (retired), I appreciate the efforts and personal trauma that these photographers go through in order to document for world viewers and history, the sad events as shown here. For those people who have negative comments, I ask, “If the photographs are so offensive, why do you look at them?” These people should try to do something positive instead of being always ‘purer than the Pope’. My compliments to this photographer and the fine work he does

Posted by Roger Gelfand | Report as abusive

Your photography work is showing how you are a brave person who can press shutter button of your camera in such horrible situation Thank you very much for your work as a true news photographer. I hope world will send more help and aid after watching these photographs to China.

China should give up or postpone the Olympic 2008 after this major earthquake and help its people. Goddess of Mount Everest (Chomo Langma) is angry with China.

Posted by AY | Report as abusive

….and what brilliant pictures they are? ouch.

Posted by ib | Report as abusive

I disagree with Diana, I needed to see this exactly to be brought back to earth and her torturous moods! This and the Myanmar Cyclone has completely gone by me – another day, another disaster.

Thank you for capturing the essence of what is happening, for opening my eyes that has been all too conveniently shut.

With regards to the Olympic Games, I think it is EXACTLY what a nation like China needs now to lift them up again.

God Bless all those who got hurt, and all the families who are displaced and lost loved ones.

Posted by Isolet | Report as abusive

We just started this “Photographers for China Earthquake Relief”. The idea is that we will assign a donation amount to our works and services . Anyone who donates to eligible organizations for the purpose of China Earthquake Relief can choose the works and services accordingly. We will have our first offline event this Saturday afteroon at Soyodo Bookstore in Temple City, CA.

Organizers of events to raise money for China earthquake victims, please email us at webmaster@photosalonla.org if you think our service can help you raise more money.

Photographers, please join us in this efforts.

For those who want to donate for the cause, come and check it out.

You can check for more details at: http://photosalonla.org

Posted by Yuhong Huang | Report as abusive

Brilliant pictures they may be but those who were once alive and well are statistics now… they may be the face of the brutish force of nature but still human in the end. Just how is a photographer or reporter expected to maintain objectivity and balance in the face of such human suffering? And how do you deal with your own demons? It must be hard and trying to balance it all with previous personal experiences must be challenging. My question is: just how do you do it?

Posted by Diana Ngila | Report as abusive

[…] mentioning this because of some comments I saw here. People call the pictures offensive, but how can a picture portray anything but reality? They can […]

Posted by Fear of Death « That Place Called Home | Report as abusive

If curiosity got the best of you, and you are so offended by these images, then you should just stay inside the box you chose to live in. These are some of the most moving pictures I have seen to date. For us that live in a tranquil world, sheltered all our lives from the chaos that permeates throughout, these pictures are a wake up; A call for sympathy; A call for understanding; A call for action. Just because you do not see it, does not mean it does not exist. You clicked on the link, now face the facts, learn the truth, and I hope you figure out how to deal with it.

Posted by Yin | Report as abusive

Great pictures. Photographing life in crisis is always a challenge for photographers. Close, stark, intimate but not offensive. Telling the story as it is without intruding. Capturing moments, while all around you are so stunned that they don’t even realise you’re there.
Without images like these, how would the rest of the world know what has happened. Caring and compassion are evoked when the lens captures those moments which most of us dread.
Someone commented “Please help China”.
Well, here in British Columbia, Canada, the Provincial Government is considering the initiative of supplying lumber with which to build semi-permanent ‘shelters’. These modules would be built to house hundreds of thousands of people. This could be a great boost for our forest industry which has suffered harsh times in the last few years(Closures of sawmills etc). Our Northern forests are being ravaged by the pine beetle, rendering most of the trees unuseable. But helping China, by providing shelter, may be one way of turning things around.

Posted by Toby | Report as abusive