In November, I interviewed Damon Winter for Too Much Chocolate. He is calm, modest and (quite frankly) not the best interviewee because he still feels he is too young in the career to make bold statements … you know the sound-bites from photojournalists we all crave … the ones about adventure or celebrity subjects.
His skills were proven when he raked in the Pulitzer for A Vision Of History his coverage of Obama (it was his first time covering a political campaign!)
Damon attested to the fact he has always learnt on the job. He did not train formally as photojournalist per se; he studied environmental science at college. He even admits that since his job is so time-consuming he feels somewhat detached from the talk and over-talk (my term) within the industry.
To cut a long intro short, I have a lot of respect for Damon.
Damon’s visit to Haiti has been his first coverage of a disaster area. His dispatches have been well received; most likely because he has put sensitive words (here and here) out there as well as his photographs.
I posted earlier this week about the unknowns surrounding the escape of the entire Haiti National Penitentiary population. Damon has since visited the prison for the New York Times and the NYT continues the reflections on these unknowns:
Who were the [prisoners]? Were they among the machete-wielding pillagers who made their way along the Boulevard Jean-Jacques Dessalines on Saturday afternoon? (The account in The Times, “Looting Flares Where Authority Breaks Down,” said no one could answer with certainty.) Did their numbers include political prisoners? In “Disaster Imperialism in Haiti” on MRZine, a Socialist Web site, Shirley Pate wrote: “Who knows how many of the dead or escaped prisoners there were those who were incarcerated without cause over the course of the two years that followed Aristide’s departure?”
Damon Winter’s photographs answer none of these questions. They don’t mean to. But they do begin to paint a picture of life inside a Haitian prison; a picture that few people have ever seen before.