M y Hôpital Albert Schweitzer shoot has been a whirlwind. As I write this, it’s midnight, I’ve just arrived home after 19 hours in transit. A bumpy ride from Deschapelles to Port au Prince in the cargo area of an over-crowded, stiff suspension, Toyota Landcruiser, followed by 3 flights to get back home. I’m physically and emotionally exhausted,  but wanted to share some images and text that I started writing on the flight and during my layovers in Miami and Dallas.

I’m just going to say a few things about each photo…so, here goes

This first image is one that I think depicts the boredom of the hours many patients endure before being seen by a doctor or a nurse. Haitians have a tolerance for this idle time, they are used to waiting around, whether it be for a bus or to collect water, or to be seen by a physician. Some wait hours, in pain, without medication, yet scarcely complain.

I came across this grandmother waiting with her grandson, I spent a few minutes waiting for them to forget about me and go back to thinking about what they were thinking before I arrived.

If you remember the pictures from surgery in my last post, there was a man getting an amputation, this is him. Since I had communicated with him for several days leading up to his surgery, and even photographing him in the surgery suite before he was anesthetized, I wanted to seek him out not only to photograph them in a post-surgery setting but also to say hello. Today, I found him sitting on the bed near the window, I shook his hand and indicated that I’d like to take his picture, he nodded an agreement and sat up straight so that I could make his photograph.

In a shaded area behind one of the hospital wards I saw a young girl combing her hair. It was one of those situations where the lighting is just perfect. There was a fair amount of indirect light coming from all directions as she sat just in the shade. The addition of a strong bounce light coming off of the concrete floor gave a really nice highlight in her eyes. This, along with the fact that her arms are help up, provide a bit of a flame for her face, and that makes it even nicer. This is an image that will probably prove quite useful to Hôpital Albert Schweitzer, as it has a “universal appeal”.

In the prosthetics lab I noticed one of the nurses helping patient applied his prosthesis. I had met these 2 individuals previously, so they were accustomed to me.

In the prosthetics lab one of the Haitian technicians was assembling a new prosthesis using parts from donated items. There was a table full of feet, most of them white, I found this rather funny because here, for obvious reasons, darker skin prostheses would be more appropriate.

There was a little boy who was receiving bilateral orthotics. I noticed him waiting patiently, and when he finally received his orthotics he was delighted. I took a wide shot of him in the hallway, followed up with a portrait of him sitting on the bench, smiling.

Then I asked him to stand near his wheelchair. I wanted to create an image that showed that he was now standing on his own and no longer needed to use the wheelchair. Using selected depth of field and my wide-angle lens I placed him on the left side of the frame in sharp focus, and let the wheelchair be visible on the right.

A trip to the countryside took me to a dispensary in the small village of Tien. The patients, comedown from the hillsides, some, walking as many as 6 hours to be seen at this clinic. Mothers bring their children and elderly people come for treatment. The last time I was at a dispensary shooting for Hoptial Albert Schweitzer, there was a woman, being brought on the back of a donkey…she and her husband had spent all night getting there. I still remember that particular shot from 2007. No such luck this year.

On the shot list there was a specific request for images of people being weighed. I made a variety of shots of old people, young people, males and females.

I was also looking for a different twist, something more interesting than just someone standing on a scale, so I experimented by shooting through the scale from the perspective of the person taking the measurement.

There was also a small hanging scale. Children were placed in a wearable strap then their parents hung them from the scale so that they could be weighed. Most of the children ended up screaming and were quite frightened by the experience.

After patients are evaluated, they move to different parts of the dispensary to sit down and wait to be seen by the appropriate department (pre-natal, nutrition, or general medicine). There is bench seating around the perimeter of an area that has overhangs and it makes the perfect spot for photos.

The nurses in the clinic handout thermometers and instruct the mothers on how to place place them under the arms of their children to take temperature. I had to assist this woman, who had placed the thermometer incorrectly. Some things we take for granted (like how to use a digital thermometer), isn’t immediately understood by someone who lives in a remote, rural area of Haiti.

Hôpital Albert Schweitzer also asked me to take pictures of their health cards. The health card has information about the patient, including their name, age, their last visit, the history of their immunizations and so forth.

Again I wanted something a little bit more exciting than just the picture of the card itself so I experimented using my long lens and also my wide lens. The results can be seen here.

There was a little girl that was quite photogenic, and as you can see how many photos she appears in, I spent a fair amount of time photographing her from different angles. She had a confidence about her which was evident in many of the photos.

I photographed her in many different emotional states….I particularly like this one where she appears to be looking down; “thinking”.

I like the look that she has in the photo below…, it is sort of as if to say I’m proud and confident… “Go ahead and take my picture if you want, I don’t care one way or the other”.

I was also tasked with taking pictures of an agro-forestry project called HTRIP  (Haiti Timber Re-Introduction Program) so I took a shot of the door of the vehicle that we were riding in which contained the logo. I find the pictures with people are always more engaging and interesting so I did was motion to a young girl to go stand by the door of the car. She obliged, and I took the photograph.

Then I walked with her and her sister over to an area where there were saplings and seedlings being grown and although I don’t speak French or Creole all I had to do was motion to her to pick up one of the seedlings and hold it.

Finally, I asked one of the technicians from Hôpital Albert Schweitzer to pick up and hold the sampling as though it was something precious, which of course it is, because in Haiti there’s a tremendous amount of deforestation, and one of the goals of HTRIP is to plant trees for a better future for Haiti.

For more information about Hôpital Albert Schweitzer and Hôpital Albert Schweitzer’s HTRIP program, click the links.

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