PART THREE IN A SERIES OF POSTS DISCUSSING PHOTOGRAPHERS’ ACTIONS AND RESPONSES TO THE KILLING OF FABIENNE CHERISMA IN PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI ON THE 19TH JANUARY 2010.

Michael Mullady just gave an interview to CALIBER SF, the second half of which reflects upon his recent experience in Haiti.

The image atop the interview is of Fabienne Cherisma, the 15 year old girl shot dead by police in Port-au-Prince. I have talked about the circumstances and the photographing of her death here and here before.

In addition to Garcia-Rawlins, Grarup and Laban-Mattei, I did not know that Mullady had also followed her corpse down the street.

Warning: The image is graphic. It is so close in. I should’ve offered the same caveat in my earlier posts. The more I deconstruct the images of – and pass on information surrounding Fabienne’s death – the more I feel like an intruder into a scene that should never have been.

WORDS

Read Mullady’s interview

Mullady talks generally about his career and then moves on to talk frankly about why he went to Haiti (last minute), how he wasn’t prepared for it, and how he now has a commitment to telling the stories of Haitians in the “immediate future”. He offers observations on the social/security fabric of Port-au-Prince.

On Fabienne:

“One day while covering the situation, a young girl was shot just a few feet from where I was standing. People had jumped onto a collapsed building and were running over roofs to get inside stores were merchandise was buried. It was a split decision, but I decided to follow the people to get more intimate images. Putting myself into that situation was possibly something I should have thought more about. In the moment, getting the photograph was all I was thinking about, not my life. That bullet could have been in my head. It was that serious. The cops were not looking at who was in the crowd, they were just shooting. To think I could have lost my life in an instant is terrifying. That day I realized the dangers of working in hostile situations as a journalist and that any day could be your last. When I saw that girl laying on the ground and the agony on her families face, I thought about my own family and the agony I put them through every time I leave the country to work. I never want my parents to have to go through losing there only son. That situation impacted me very deeply and I have yet to speak to anyone in detail about it, you guys are the first. I will share one of my images from that day with you guys.”

On Jim Nachtwey?!:

“I always admired James Nachtwey. Believe it or not, I actually got to meet him in Haiti. It was surreal to look over one-day and see him working next to me. Wow.  I couldn’t believe it was really him. Everything I had dreamed about and strived towards became real in that moment. He was no longer a golden god in my eyes but a colleague, working to illustrate the same situation I was.”

On the day-to-day situation:

“The way I see things in Haiti is very different then I imagine you guys to see it through the news. Aid is here, but there are so many people in need and not everyone is receiving proper attention. Things have definitely positively progressed, but it’s going to take more time to help everyone in need.”

“Haiti is plagued by corruption. I have witnessed it first-hand, police stealing aid supplies and keeping them for themselves or selling them to wealthy people. This type of thing is a reality in Haiti. I’ve seen it on many occasions.”

“Before the earthquake, Haiti was in a bad situation so after this I fear for their future. Many Haitians whom I’ve spoken with express they want to become and American colony, such as Puerto Rico. Being an American, it’s been difficult to answer those questions for people and even more difficult knowing that if I told them what I really thought, it would not be what they wanted to hear.”

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Mullady’s candour is to be acknowledged. He could do to turn-down the Nachtwey-worship, though.

After reading the article and seeing the picture, however, I cannot shake his earlier quote:

“Many people believe photojournalists to not be artists and consider other genres of photography to be “art.” What I strive to do is bleed these lines. First and foremost, I would consider myself an artist, a visual artist whose subject matter is humanity. I live for light, obsess over sophisticated compositions and spend as much time as needed to make the exact frame I’m envisioning. A large distinction is that I intend to make images for the world to see, via publications, not images just to hang on a wall.”

Is to “bleed the lines” an incontestable perspective on one’s photojournalism? What happens when one is framing a composition of a murdered teenager? Has this perspective been more common than we’d like to acknowledge in recent images of Haiti?

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ALSO IN THE ‘PHOTOGRAPHING FABIENNE’ SERIES

Part One: Fabienne Cherisma (Initial inquiries, Jan Grarup, Olivier Laban Mattei)
Part Two: More on Fabienne Cherisma (Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Part Four: Yet more on Fabienne Cherisma (Linsmier, Nathan Weber)
Part Five: Interview with Edward Linsmier
Part Six: Interview with Jan Grarup
Part Seven: Interview with Paul Hansen
Part Eight: Interview with Michael Winiarski
Part Nine: Interview with Nathan Weber
Part Ten: Interview with James Oatway
Part Eleven: Interview with Nick Kozak
Part Twelve: Two Months On (Winiarski/Hansen)
Reporter Rory Carroll Clarifies Some Details
Part Fourteen: Interview with Alon Skuy
Part Fifteen: Conclusions

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