November 16, 2013

Those Sensual Typhoon Pictures from the Philippines

Those primary colors are fabulous, aren’t they? I love the yellows and the reds, the blues and the greens. And how about the pinks or those stunning blue pastel shirts in the left foreground? And isn’t it particularly cool how the colors pop, like M&M’s against the flatter tones, into the far distance?

I understand super  high contrast color is the new normal, but applied to disaster photography, one of the worst storms ever recorded, already  3,600 dead and extreme distress amidst exotic scenery and otherwise picture postcard backgrounds, why does it feel like the stimulation is subsuming the information?

I find the sensuality of the color and the painterly compositions, as well as the languorous quality of what feels more like art photography, voyeuristic and culturally patronizing. One  question that  always passes through my mind (and will again, I’m sure) is: would we/have we seen the same such, given the same or similar circumstances, in America?

(Update: new sentence added.)

(photo 1: Erik De Castro/Reuters caption 1: Typhoon victims wait in line for free rice at a businessman’s warehouse in Tacloban, Philippines, which was devastated by Super Typhoon 2 & 5: Tyler Hicks/The New York Times caption 2: The town of Tanauan, south of its better-known neighbor, Tacloban, was devastated by the storm surge from the typhoon. photo 3: Dita Alangkara/AP caption 3: A man takes a shower amid rubble in an area badly affected by Typhoon Hayan in Tacloban, central Philippines, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday, leaving a wide swath of destruction. photo 4: Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times caption 4: A woman held her baby in Tacloban. The mayor urged residents to flee to other cities and find shelter there with relatives if they could. caption 5: In Tacloban, a city wrapped around a horseshoe-shaped bay, the water overflowed from the bay in all directions. It flooded practically everything in sight with fast-moving torrents as the sea level rose as much as 13 feet.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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