Lynsey Addarios: Showing the Depth of Human Tragedy

I had very little time to find a formal photoessay and write about it, but a profile on a photojournalist and her work has caught my eye. Her lone images are able to capture an entire story.

The brilliant assembly of photojournalism by Lynsey Addarios of the New York Times was recently featured in PBS NewsHour. She has visited several countries, like Sudan, the Congo, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. A major theme of hers is the  trauma resulting from sprees of kidnapping and war through Africa and the Middle East.

A portrait of Mapendo, a kidnapping and rape victim from South Kivu. Photo by Lynsey Addario.

The photo to the left is arguably one of the most powerful and most effective. This entire image encapsulates a story of widespread tragedy. The look in her eyes is powerful. The fact she is laying down shows weakness, almost defeat. When it comes down to it, this picture shows the victims of conflict. It’s something we need to act. Even the caption tells a powerful story:

Mapendo, 22, lies in her home in Burhale, South Kivu, weak and covered in a skin rash less than a year after she was kidnapped and raped by five men who wore uniforms and carried guns, in South Kivu, in Eastern Congo, April 14, 2008. Mapendo never had the chance to go to the hospital after she was attacked for lack of funds and transportation, and was so weak she could barely sit up. “I have sores all over my body and I have been suffering from these sores for many months now. I had a husband and child before I was raped. My child died suddenly when it was 3 years old. My husband was buried in the mines….”

The caption combined with the raw, hot colors, makes for ideal photojournalism. It may not be rule of thirds, but it is a unique, up close perspective.

Kahindo, another victim of rape ad kidnapping, sitting in a room with her two resulting children. Photo by Lynsey Addario.
Kahindo, another victim of rape and kidnapping, sitting in a room with her two resulting children. Photo by Lynsey Addario.

Another powerful image of hers, running along the same theme, takes a different perspective but masters it. The camera is distant. The subject, Kahindo, in North Kivu, sits in darkness with her two children who were conceived from a horrifying series of rapes. The dark seems symbolic of her life. It even serves as a framework for a life, just like it does in the photo.

Each photo presented her is symbolic, yet representative of a larger, human story on rape and kidnapping that takes us beyond numbers. All-in-all, I wish I had more time to appreciate the work of this journalist in a more formal photoessay and post, like many other smaller newspapers- and even NPR- have.


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