A (Beautiful) Disaster

Hurricane Sandy’s been on everyone’s mind this week. I’ve been thinking about my friends and relatives in the Northeast, hoping my great-aunt’s beach house in Scituate, Mass., isn’t in pieces. Sympathy has come from across the country and the world — even in the form of sympathetic emails from vendors such as J. Crew and Madewell (yes, I received an email from each Thursday morning). And with the wonders of photojournalism, even those of us who are land-locked thousands of miles away can watch as the tragedy unfolds.

We talked in lecture this week about photojournalism and composing a story, and I think this photo slideshow from TIME Magazine does a great job of giving a broad overview of the damage Hurricane Sandy has caused. These haunting photos are beautifully composed, giving viewers a clear idea of what has happened. There are 71 photos in this slideshow, so I’ll just talk about some of my favorites:

No. 3: I think of this picture as the “calm before the storm” — and literally, in this case. I love the use of shadow and dark colors in this sad picture with a silhouette of (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

No. 12: This is the first picture in the slideshow that shows the seriousness of Sandy’s destruction — the first several showed a lot of the preliminary actions people took before the storm occurred. The most compelling item in the picture (also the composed focal point) is the standing fire escape with its second level hanging in midair. This level of destruction is incredible, especially with houses in the background seemingly untouched.

No. 15: The rubble caused this picture to be taken, but my favorite aspect of this picture is the couple holding hands. They walk sadly through the rubble, but it’s almost as if all will be OK because they still have each other.

No. 22: Many of these pictures are wide shots, so I’m glad a tight shot of the debris was included. The composition is beautiful, but the picture is in such a perfect place, I almost wonder if it was set up like that instead of found naturally.

No. 24: This is the first picture in the slideshow that captures candid human sadness. I’m glad the background is out of focus so viewers are solely drawn to the two women. The photographer captured some powerful emotion.

No. 33: This picture of silent, sullen Manhattan makes me sad, as the city is usually bustling with excitement. The shadows and dark colors add to the dismal tone of the piece, and the small bits of color are mostly red, emitting a warning signal.

No. 36: This aerial shot is simple yet dramatic. It’s incredible how such a small area got wiped out with the houses surrounding the area remaining intact.

No. 44: This almost reminds me of apples bobbing in a barrel in an old Halloween cartoon, except these are cars that weigh tens of thousands of pounds floating just outside a flooded parking garage. I think it’s interesting how the water is a purple-pink, and I wonder what kinds of chemicals made it that color. (That is, assuming this isn’t one of those Photoshopped Hurricane Sandy pictures that are unfortunately making their way around the Internet.)

No. 52: Seeing the storm in action is both incredible and terrifying. It’s such a simple shot, but the railing is straight, and the textured water has flown up in such a way that it looks picturesque.

I hope everyone has stayed safe and the damage done can be repaired quickly, efficiently and (it’s a long shot, but) inexpensively.

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