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November 11, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan: Early Pictures

6 taking food typhoon
Caption: Residents loot water damaged sacks of rice from a rice warehouse in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban. (Getty Images)

Once again, it’s not looting if people are starving and have no alternative. (ChileHaiti 1Haiti 2NOLA/Katrina.) By the way, you think white people wouldn’t/don’t do it, too?

3 typhoon c130

The early pictures, at least, have as much a war, or war relief vibe to them.

1 Tacloban utter devastation

Obviously, what distinguishes the Haiyan imagery from other disasters of the past few years is scale. As Western media starts to get its hands around this story (unless it only gives perfunctory coverage, which would be notable, too) expect attempts to express a whole new level of “massive.” The disproportionate number of aerial shots, however, seem to have as much to do with difficulty even negotiating the ground.

5 typhoon baby
I’ve been seeing a lot of pictures of the baby that was born through the ordeal. (Maybe more than one, actually.) Media seems to be backing off on the graphic imagery. Though it’s early yet.

4 typhoon fb
This photo seems to signify something new – perhaps avowel of the role of a true global utility? Here’s the caption:

Jessamere Enriquez, 14, helps her mother inform their family in Manila of their situation using Facebook at a free internet kiosk provided by an internet service provider after Haiyan battered Tacloban city, on November 11, 2013. Due to the scarcity of resources, each person was allowed only 3 minutes of use.

So much for the telephone.

2 Haiyan maldives

I guess people are still going to tiptoe around the fact that larger storms are being amplified by climate change. Although there is much written about worst scenarios – such as cities or landmasses actually swallowed by the sea – I haven’t seen that many news photos evocative of outcomes that consummate. This one, on the other hand, calls out for the Maldives.

(photo 1: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty. photo 2, 3 & 6: Erik De Castro/Reuters caption 2: Survivors look up at a military C-130 plane as it arrives at typhoon-ravaged Tacloban city, Leyte province, on November 11, 2013. photo 4: Bullit Marquez/AP. caption: New-born baby Bea Joy is held by relative Michelle Satur after mother Emily Ortega, 21, gave birth in an improvised clinic at Tacloban airport. photo 5: Edgar Su/Reuters caption 5: Jessamere Enriquez, 14, helps her mother inform their family in Manila of their situation using Facebook at a free internet kiosk provided by an internet service provider after Haiyan battered Tacloban city, on November 11, 2013. Due to the scarcity of resources, each person was allowed only 3 minutes of use.)

  • Ian

    There’s something about that first picture (the rice sacks) that makes me uncomfortable… I think it’s the mirror, as though the photographer were safely ensconced in a passing car, on a devastation safari. I doubt this was the case, but the framing of the picture causes me to think so.

    The facebook picture is beautiful, mainly because it conveys so succinctly the human necessity to connect, and frames it in a context that is familiar to most everyone on the planet. Here is devastation severing ties, across a chain of islands no less, and here is a way to reconnect, to say “we are still alive.” If the news photos themselves only serve to place the disaster “way over there,” the picture of a family using that familiar blue-trimmed facebook page shows them as part of US, right here in front of our own computer screens, wherever we are. For me, nothing personalizes, and humanizes, the disaster so much as that one photo.

    • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael Shaw

      The mirror struck me also, like we’re spying. Not only creates that much more distance but encourages judgement.

  • http://reciprocity-failure.blogspot.com/ Stan B.

    The mirror doesn’t bother me half as much as the word “looting” underneath it all (as you’ve already well pointed out). No: homes, food, sanitation, medicine, water- nothing but the clothes on their backs for the next several weeks (if not longer), and still these craven people are going about… “LOOTING!”

  • bystander

    re: The mirror in the 1st shot

    Or, ?

    “Looting” in the present tense; ie, in the moment. When viewed retrospectively in the “rear view mirror” it becomes survival. The judgement is “as it happens,” the luxury of “reflection” allows for a different “view.” ???

  • Staton

    The first photo is really great because it gives the viewer depth. I’m not uncomfortable at all with the photo…The photographer used the mirror to show the viewer the depth of the warehouse, not just the people directly in front of the lens. It’s not spying…Lets not get too involved with whether or not the photographer was actually interacting, or viewing the scene from a car…The photographer is clearly THERE..So whatever people may think, going to a place like this is total immersion, yes the photog probably has supplies and maybe even a small generator, but they will be sleeping in similar conditions…not a local five star hotel…come on people…look at the image, and get over being uncomfortable…Or get off yur bum, and go and help, and perhaps get another perspective..It’s called REALITY.

  • Scarabus

    And the mirror is deliberately emphasized, making it a sort of “gimmick” shot. It could easily have been kept out of frame or cropped out later on. However it affects our reading, one thing is for sure: Its inclusion was intentional.

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