Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Must Read: Spencer Platt's Cholera Journal

A cholera patient being delivered to a hospital in Haiti. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images
 My friend Michael Shaw, who does the excellent Bag News Notes website, has a piece up featuring photojournalist Spencer Platt's images documenting the cholera outbreak. The pictures suggest the reality of the deadly disease in a way I haven't experienced before. Platt has also written a journal about his experience in Haiti. He's a very strong writer. Here is an excerpt, in which he describes seeing patients being treated in a hospital room that once was used as a maternity ward:
This room, which had been used to usher new lives into the world; whose walls witnessed the screams, fears and sobs of the joy of birth, is now home to an ominous sight. Men and women, young and old lay prostrate in the late afternoon light with rehydration drips tethered to their thin arms. They are the fortunate ones, the ones who made it to the hospital and didn’t die in a fetid shed where shafts of light filter through wood slats to reveal worlds of dust and rot.
Please go to Bag News and see the rest of Platt's images, and read that journal. This is a prime example of what photographs do like no other medium. They provide the emotional sticking points that make the abstractions of current events real for us. And the combination of pictures and words remain as powerful as ever.

A cholera victim is buried. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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