While the island was in crisis, with no power, no water, and no communication services, people found ways to stay positive. I shot a beautiful wedding in November that left me hopeful and inspired to continue to push forward with my personal life and work.
If photos of the devastation, houses without roofs, personal belongings washed up on the roads and families crying doesn’t inspire you to shoot, then there is nothing wrong with you! Everyone is capable of working through a crisis. You’re not someone that can stay silent behind a camera and do nothing. You are just not a bystander.
There are many great professional photographers out there that through their work have accomplished more than just telling a story. They have uncovered truths, reconnected families separated by loss of communication, power, and in some cases loss of roads and bridges. They're not bystanders. They helped. These photographers are still helping. Through their actions and through their images. Bringing awareness to those who are not on the island. To those who have left many years ago or just a few days ago.
These photographers have created beautiful and meaningful bodies of work and so can you. So, why are you feeling like you can’t do the same? If the story of flooding houses doesn't inspire you to shoot how about the story of the nuns who take care of kids and families in refugee centers.
That dark patch of land on the horizon of this photo is Vieques island. An island off the coast of Humacao, where i took this image. No power, no communication, Viequenses were trapped for days in complete darkness isolated from everything.
If you’re not a professional photographer and you’re not sure what to do during a crisis, here are some ideas. Put the camera down. Grab a shovel, hammer, rake, broom or mop and start working. Clean your house, your neighborhood, your community, your town or your city. Don't wait for the government or your fairy godmother, do it yourself. Yes, there are people that get paid to do that, but they need help too. Do it for you. Take pride in your surroundings not just your pictures.
Another thing to do if this is not your cup of tea, is publishing your work to get the word out. Websites that get crawled by google, like blog sites, Instagram, Facebook, Flickr or just about any public photo or social media website. Get the word out!
I can only speak from experience. After helping various communities and families, I was able to look at my home and along with my family, do the things we needed to do to fix our home, neighborhood, and surroundings. It brought peace to my heart and mind.
During the whole crisis, I never lost hope or inspiration. It takes many months of frustration, sweat and tears. Many months without power, communication or food. It can get to you. But working hard every day can help you in so many ways. Never lose focus.