An incredibly poignant and powerful set of images Japanese heart by Rebecca Manson captures the rubble and remants of daily life left behind after the 2011 Tsunami in Japan. She describes the photographs as:
“The steady, dignified, almost quiet, progress and recovery of a region after the violence and destruction of one day in March 2011:Originally having planned to volunteer in Japan for just 3 weeks following the Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11 2011, the place, the people and the shear depth and scale of the destruction kept me there for 6 months.
The honor of living and working amongst the Japanese people during such a profound time, led me to a deeper understanding of their quiet and dignified recovery, a recovery that still continues.
These photos are a reflection of that time, understanding and recovery.
Shot in the towns of Ofuntao and Rikuzentakata in Iwate Prefecture, between the months of May and November 2011. Using a medium format Mamiya7, to attempt to capture and portray the heartbreaking scale of what we saw day after day and on Kodak 160NC film to show the soft light and almost tranquil calm that followed in the months after the “storm”.”
There’s no denying the power of photography to capture events and their aftermath and bring them to the homes of those of us who couldn’t possibly experience it for ourselves. Documentary and reportage photography has the power to keep us informed about the world and the lives of those in areas we may never get to visit ourselves. Manson’s work is no exception and goes beyond simply capturing the devastation left by the tsunami as she explains in the talk she gave at TED:
There’s often debate in the realm of documentary photography in regards to a photographers role about whether or not a photographer should just record what they see or act and participate in events. There’s strong arguments for both, Nachtwey and McCullin for example have both talked extensively on the power of photography to influence human behavior and to give their subjects a voice they might not otherwise have which is certainly a noble and laudable goal but Manson wasn’t just in Japan to record what she saw, she took her skills as a retoucher and gave something back to the family’s who’s lives had been turned upside down. Drafting in retouchers from around the world they systematically hand cleaned and repaired over 35,000 damaged photographs, returning them to the family’s who’d lost them. There’s something incredibly powerful about people from an industry which is usually so focused on selling products and creating unrealistic beauty standards turning their hand to something all of us can identify with and in a very real way giving thousands of families part of their lives back.