Pakistan: Voyeuristic Trophy Hunter?

A father holds one of his malnourished 5-month-old twins. Loss o

Pakistani woman holds her grandchild amid the ruins of her home

It is so easy to slip from being a sincere photojournalist documentarian into being a voyeuristic trophy hunter. The road to walk, the high road, is very narrow and the slope on either side is very slippery. The muddy incline on one side is called pride: Did I get the shot everyone will slap me on the back for? While the equally dangerous declivity on the other side is apathy: Do I truly care about the people?

Last week when these images were shot, our team had reached a point where the people and their critical needs were almost overwhelming us. The NEED was superseding our interaction with the people, our one-on-one connection. When I find myself at that point I have to force myself to look into their eyes and pause. I have to connect in some way .

The sick and malnourished 5-month old baby is central to both of these photos. Held by the father in one photo and the grandmother in another, the baby is surrounded by the remains of their home, destroyed by a mob incited by radical Muslims just a few days previous. How will this baby survive with no roof over his head, inadequate food, water and healthcare? Do we really care?

To send help for this village directly, contact: www.swi.org

(Canon 5D2, 24-105mm @24mm, 1/320 sec, f5, ISO 320)

(Canon 5D2, 24-105mm @105mm, 1/640 sec, f4, ISO 800)

┬ęCopyright Gary S. Chapman 2009

9 thoughts

  1. Gary,
    Thank you for sharing. Your photos are wonderful and eye-opening and your words are thought provoking. Thanks for the link to SWI too.

  2. “Words play a much lesser role, in my mind, than what the photographer grabs from the moment to reveal inner emotions. That is, for me, what really counts. I am convinced that the less the photographer imposes his ego on the moment, the more powerful the result is likely to be It means patience and watchfulness and a willingness to stand back and wait to catch the truth on the fly and finally edit of the best of it.” – Barbara Villet, photographer Grey Villet’s wife and a formers “Life” magazine writer

  3. As one of the overwhelmed workers who touched the skin and smelled the charred ashes of life in smoke; I made the comment that I had reached capacity overload. The people were morphing from individuals to a collective of suffering that was beyond my ability to associate with. The “sigh” of the hurting had reached a divine crescendo and only God was able to bear it. Oh, thank you Jesus for the cross and all of it’s implications toward me and them making it “us”. Words fail as a medium as suffering forces silence and only the images remain. Thanks Gary and I will see you soon.

  4. I came upon these late…They are the right stuff and require that we engage in the pain however we may. Now, with the floods, even more so. This is the real work of photojournalism: keep on with it G. BV

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