In contrast to traditional photojournalism, an upcoming exhibit about life in post-earthquake Haiti offers a powerful look inside the lives of women by putting cameras in their hands. "The Way We See It" is a collection of photographs shot by 30 Haitian women living in a devastated nation where privacy and security are nearly nonexistent. Spearheaded by Abby Goldberg of Digital Democracy, the program started with the mission of shedding light on the issue of gender-based violence, which has become increasingly prevalent in the camp lifestyle resulting from the 2010 natural disaster.
After teaching the women how to use digital cameras, co-curators Erin Kornfeld and Erica Leone of Elk Studios narrowed down the thousands of images with the help of participants to a total of 48. The resulting collection is a striking portrait of the women's daily life, documenting communities as they survive day to day in tents, plywood lean-tos and the other makeshift shelters that make up neighborhoods in the wake of the destruction.
Not just an example of raising awareness, The Way We See It sets a progressive example of how marginalized individuals can express themselves when given the right tools. As one of the photographers and Women Victims for Victims co-founder Marie Eramithe Delva explains, through photography they can "capture concretely what has happened and what continues to happen," offering a far truer depiction than one most documentarians can provide. Exhibitions like this (the similar 2010 "Campaign to stop Violence against Women in Eastern Congo" photo essay by Francois Vaxelaire comes to mind) demonstrates how powerful a humanitarian tool photography can be.
The one-night-only exhibition and auction will take place 28 April 2011 at NYC's Splashlight Studios. All proceeds from sales of the photos and the corresponding catalog will directly benefit the women who took the photos, and the continued work of Digital Democracy.
See more images in the gallery.
All images courtesy Digital Democracy © 2011 "The Way We See It"