January 2015

The death of Fabienne Cherisma, from the series Haiti, 2010, © Nathan Weber/NBW Photo.
Fifteen-year-old Fabienne Cherisma was shot and killed by police for looting two chairs and three framed pictures during the aftermath of Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake of 2010. Photographer Nathan Weber captured a group of his colleagues documenting the tragic scene. This picture raises the question: When does photography cross the line from documentation to exploitation? Respond to our question with text, photos, videos, or audio files, and we'll feature your response below.

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How Photography's 'Decisive Moment' Often Depicts an Incomplete View of Reality

Photojournalism can be like “trying to play Rachmaninoff while wearing boxing gloves,” as former photojournalist Simon Norfolk put it. One looks for the dramatic, the iconic, the universal, and in doing so the photographer then often simplifies the situation, removing it from a specific context that may help explain what the viewer will be seeing.

So it is in this photograph—the international press hovering like vultures next to the corpse. But what caused her death? What are they missing? Are they being callous? And what does the viewer need to know (but is not being told) about the circumstances surrounding this image?

The criticism of photojournalists as vultures is a familiar one. Kevin Carter, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1993 photograph of a struggling toddler trying to get to a feeding station in the Sudan with a vulture looking on, was widely branded as