How I Got the Photo – Martin Tremblay

2016 NPOY SOCIAL ISSUES, Finalist – A blind woman (foreground) is crowded with several other patients in a tent that serves as an extension to the cholera clinic of Les Cayes Hospital, Haiti, November 11, 2016. With 10,000 dead and 800,000 sick, cholera is wreaking havoc in Haiti. After six years of denying the evidence, the UN admitted in September 2016 that its own soldiers brought the disease to the island. (Martin Tremblay / La Presse)

The heat and odours were terrible in the tent heated by the scorching sun of Haiti. I was on the verge of asphyxiation but the process of photographing the patients made me forget for a while.

Sitting on the last bed at the back of the tent, I saw this blind woman whom I hadn’t photographed. I positioned myself between her bed and the wall of the tent to get an interesting angle. I was so very close to her that, when I looked through the viewfinder, she literally filled the frame. I immediately noticed her powerful blind gaze.

I wanted everything to be white to highlight people’s faces. I also decided to focus on the people in the background.

For these kind of assignments, I like working with a Leica and a 35mm lens. It is less intimidating and less obtrusive than my reflex camera. I am forgotten faster which allows me to work without disturbing the naturalness of the scene. The viewfinder also allows me to keep eye contact with people, something essential when I do not speak their language. In a situation like this, when people are experiencing pain and distress, respect is a must.

Leica M (typ 262), Summicron f2, ISO 400, 1/30s, f16.


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