Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fabienne Cherisma: A Picture of a Dead Haitian Girl Surrounded by Photographers


On January 19, 2010, 15-year old Fabienne Cherisma died from a stray bullet while scavenging for supplies in the earthquake-ravaged city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Barely a week after the devastating 2010 Haitian Earthquake which killed more than 300,000 people, the death of one girl sparked more controversy about the disaster than before. It was because of the above photograph, showing a  group of journalists flocking together to take a picture of the dead Haitian girl.

Days after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, international aid was somewhat slow to respond to the disaster, considering the scale of the destruction. In Port-au-Prince, thousands had taken to scavenging and looting in order to get by. Anything that looked like it was worth something was taken out of crumbling shops and homes, and local authorities were too overwhelmed to stop crowds of residents from stealing from each other.

In order to deter looters, police were authorized to shoot their guns into the air. Unfortunately, one of these stray bullets hit Fabienne Cherisma in the head while she was carrying picture frames back to her home. Soon after, photojournalists came onto the scene to capture the moment.


Fabienne's photograph did not become famous until two different photography award juries announced that the scene was the subject of two different winning photographs. In 2011, Paul Hensen's image above was chosen as the Picture of the Year in Sweden. A few weeks later, Lucas Oleniuk photograph below won the National Newspaper Awards in Canada.

In addition, Nathan Weber's version (the header photo) showed a group of photographers crowding together to take a picture of the dead Haitian girl. Criticism soon came out about the commercialization and selective nature of breaking-news photojournalism. To top it all off, accusations were hurled against the photographers that they had moved the body and the picture frames to make the scene look more dramatic (although other pictures and videos show that other civilians might have done this).


For most of these photographers, they were simply doing their job: photographing newsworthy situations in a way that would catch the attention of viewers. There's no doubt that the images of the deceased  Fabienne Cherisma speak more than any article could and helped bring greater awareness to the 2010 Haiti Earthquake.

Still, these different angles really do put things into perspective, and the picture showing the photographers surrounding the dead Haitian girl shows even more plainly how a different perspective can result in a totally different picture. For more information on the different images, Prison Photography has an in-depth series on the controversial subject, with interviews from the different photographers who photographed the scene.

23 comments:

Fang said...

That's... wow. That's kind of terrible, really. Feels so... unethical.

Francis Lee said...

Very sad all the same!

Styron said...

wow... ok....

Anonymous said...

shame on you ,,Photographers"

sohail sheikh said...

heart touching images atunbi

Unknown said...

hello good news again some one shot killed raped steel robbed what the f...k you guys are trying to show to the world if you can't help yourself go home and say to your family that you love care respect cause thats your own i feel sad to see this there is no right to kill innocent but the world no longer need justice ..

Hussain Shifaag said...

hello good news again some one shot killed raped steel robbed what the f...k you guys are trying to show to the world if you can't help yourself go home and say to your family that you love care respect cause thats your own i feel sad to see this there is no right to kill innocent but the world no longer need justice ..

Emily said...

If it wasn't for the photographers then we would not be aware of many issues in the world or just how bad certain situations are. A photograph evokes so many emotions and can be the tipping point for people to take action which I think is very positive. It is truly awful what happened to this girl and the photographer's couldn't have saved her, so now they are spreading awareness in the hope that their photo can help get donations to the survivors of the Haitian earthquake.

Taymah Anderson said...

God is coming back with his reward, good or bad. For every wicked thing that a man has done, he must repent and ask God to forgive before it's too late. We are ALL accountable to the wrongs we do. This was someone's baby. She was a BABY! Not a show piece for someones portofolio

Christine said...

Echoes of Napalm girl (chosen for the drama as well) and effective. Photographers may seem ghoulish, but are they more or differently callous than the other looters running along ignoring the Fabienne?

Anonymous said...

she wasn't scavenging for supplies, she was stealing pictures!

stella said...

She has a family, I'm sure. And while it's possible they approved this so the world could see what was done to her, something tells me they weren't even consulted.

Africanqueen said...

I have not seen similar "educative" picture surface for 9/11, the Madrid bombing, or even recently Charlie Hebdo or Paris attacks. Or is death in poor countries a lot more "appealing" to watch in western world. Did any of those photographers have any regards whatsoever for fabienne's family in is photo?
I don't think so.
And please stop using the excuse of "journalism" whenever you need a cover to do something as unethical as what is described here.
Shame on you but may God have mercy on you.

faye said...

I agree this is appalling would I like photographsers doing this to my Daughter no I would not & I'm sure neither would the photographers they are like vultures

Aria Ligi said...

So they got an award because of her death. Disgusting

Women scorned everywhere said...

heartless are those mercenaries trying to make a buck and not one person goes to her aid. Was she dead, or dying? Could someone cover her body and show some respect towards this little girl. Americans are called upon to donate money to these people in need but these people do not even care about their own. Staying local to spend my funds to help my own.

Anonymous said...

Shame on photographers and that morons that walked there.

But maybe they put here there for a beter picture.
Same as that kid in Turkey to try open the eyes From People all media.

Unknown said...

Shame on the... Wait, who took this picture!?

sofia said...

What bothers me is the guy right in the middle who is *smiling*. For heavens sake! :(

David Turnbull said...

Just goes to show you have to be a heartless bastard to do journalism, absolutely disgusting that that poor girl lay there while vultures surrounded her, who are the animals

Margie McTrouble said...

As terrible as it may be, a picture is worth a thousand words to galvanize assistance & attention to serious problems.

Elizar Dulce said...

The completely dishonest claims shots from the air hit her, but that would be impossible with an entrance wound in her temple. She was murdered - specifically shot.I was there, and also saw her body there. She was specifically targeted and killed

stella said...

How did her family feel about this?
Elizar Dulce: My thoughts exactly, and I was not there. But it's obvious from the second photo that the bullet that killed her was not some random shot fired up in the air and then falling again.

As for the ethics of publishing these: Some are want the world to know how wrong things have gone, and want these things to be shown. Others feel this is exploitation, and want privacy.
Since the girl can no longer speak for herself, the decision to release these photographs should be her family's.

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