What it feels like to witness a tragedy: The photographer who captured grief after Sandy Hook and Columbine tells his story

 

Anyone who saw the recent documentary about acclaimed war photographer Don McCullin will know that documenting human suffering can have a profound psychological impact on the photographer.

This is also the case for Panama native Essdras Suarez, whose work as a staff photographer for publications including Rocky Mountain News and The Boston Globe has brought him into close contact with the victims of recent tragedy. In this article for the Atlantic, Suarez tells Tom Haines about his experiences, providing insight into how both the media and individuals respond to horror as incomprehensible as a school shotting.

"I asked Essdras why it is important for photojournalists to capture such scenes," writes Haines "He gave a personal answer. 'I am trying to document real suffering, real grief, because it is part of life,' Essdras said. 'In order to stay true, that's what you do.'"

It also includes this interesting admission: "What if he had to photography Columbine all over again? 'I might not have taken a lot of those shots that I took, ' Essdras said."

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