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Seen in Haiti

B. D. Colen | Haiti

Dawn on the Central Plateau. Haiti's poorest region, the Plateau's reality may be masked by by the beauty of its sweeping vistas and surrounding mountain ranges.

Haiti is a land of stark contrasts. The poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, it offers breathtaking vistas that truly have to be seen to be believed. But within those scenes of otherworldly beauty are constant reminders of the crushing poverty, ecological disaster, and appalling lack of opportunity that are daily reality for most Haitians. It is impossible to capture the entire reality of a people and nation in a handful of images, but hopefully the photos included in his exhibit will give you a sense of the place and its people.

Thanks to Project Medishare and Midwives For Haiti for making my work in that island nation possible. It must be noted, however, that opinons expressed in this exhibition, in both words and choice of images, are mine alone.

One of the most difficult challenges faced by a stranger with a camera in a strange land, is making images that accurately present reality. It is easy to focus on an assignment, and ignore visions that fail to fit neatly into the shoot. It is also easy to be captured by a single aspect of the culture and people one is seeing, and to focus only on that aspect. On the Central Plateau of Haiti, the poorest region in the Hemisphere's poorest nation, one can become captivated by the brillant colors that belie the reality of the crushing poverty abd grimness of daily life. Or one may see only the darkside of Haitian life. It is even possible to see the glorious landscape, and miss the people and their burdens. Hopefully, the images in this exhibit provide a fleeting overview of the multiple realities that are Haiti.

Midwives For Haiti

Project Medishare

The opinions expressed in the Photographer's Statement are my own, and do not represent the opinions or policies of the NGOs above.

I am a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter and editor for The Washington Post and Newsday, and started photographing as a young teenager. I covered the historic March on Washington for a weekly newspaper the week after I turned 17, and haven't stopped shooting since.

I have taught documentary photography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 2001, and have also taught at the Harvard University Extension School, the Maine Media Workshops, and have taught private workshops.

I am the author of 10 books on medically related subjects. My photography has appeared in, among other publications, The Boston Globe, The St. Louis Post Dispatch, The Baltimore Sun, Newsday, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Christian Science Monitor, and Time Magazine. Some 30 images from my ongoing subway project are included in the permanent collection of the Boston Public Library.

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