By Jon Warren, en route from the Dominican Republic to Haiti.
Videographer Tom Costanza and I got the call to deploy to the Haiti quake on Sunday afternoon, and by 8 the next morning after very little sleep, we were on a plane.
Both of us are veterans of international disaster coverage. We reported on the Asian tsunami together. I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I knew what camera gear to bring: two bodies, 70-200 and 17-35 lenses, backup hard drives, and BGANs to transmit images over satellites.
But I was still anxious about what we’d see, how we’d get in, where we’d stay, what stories and photos we’d find. Most of all, I worried about how I would relate to the victims of the quake.
It’s one thing to describe the facts of a disaster, to show what the scene is like. But mostly I want to help others know what it feels like, to help readers empathize with people in the photographs I show.
As I sat exhausted and worried on the plane. we hit severe turbulence. For the next 20 minutes the plane jerked and bounced and rolled violently. What if the bags crashed out of the overheads, or the ceiling collapsed?
I tightened my seatbelt. I was a little closer to understanding what a quake felt like.