These were featured on BagNewsNotes. I think these are some of the most profound of the Katrina pictures. As Mr. Chin said: it was vitally important that people understand how serious a failure of government had occurred in New Orleans. “I mean,” he said, “the Indonesians had a tsunami, and they still handled it a hundred times better.”
Among his peers, Alan Chin is regarded as one of the finest photojournalists in the field . . . What these photos do is bear witness to much of the information that was reinforced through the written word. At the height of the disaster, we saw scenes of suffering, but were primarily told how bitter, annihilating and incomprehensible it was. We saw death, but were told it was everywhere. Also, we saw scenes of dignity and of contempt — but not quite as boldly as this.
Two of these images ran in the September 19th issue of Newsweek, and Alan has graciously made the series available to the BAG. Speaking to him last night, he felt it was vitally important that people understand how serious a failure of government had occurred in New Orleans. “I mean,” he said, “the Indonesians had a tsunami, and they still handled it a hundred times better.”
From the standpoint of this site, and my focus on visual politics and media, I asked Alan if he thought there had still been a “filter” on Katrina. I asked because these pictures seem that much more raw. Not surprisingly, his answer illuminated the difference it made that most of the news photos were in color. Chin explained:
“I shot it in black-and-white because we live in America, so no matter what happens, we always have visual elements that are very distracting. I was one of the only people who did this in black and white. I felt it should not be distracted by color, by the fact someone might have been wearing a hot pink t-shirt. I didn’t want that irony in it. I wanted to get to the heart of the matter — to the crucial thing.”