Capturing Tragedy


In the wake of the Newtown shootings, NPR ran an item accompanied by the above picture. The news outlet was later contacted by the woman shown in the picture, Aline Marie, who noted that “no one asked [her] permission to post [the picture].” Coburn Dukeheart relates her feelings about the experience:

“I sat there in a moment of devastation with my hands in prayer pose asking for peace and healing in the hearts of men,” [Aline Marie] recalls. “I was having such a strong moment and my heart was open, and I started to cry.” Her mood changed abruptly, she says, when “all of a sudden I hear ‘clickclickclickclickclick’ all over the place. And there are people in the bushes, all around me, and they are photographing me, and now I’m pissed. I felt like a zoo animal… yes, it was a lovely photograph, but there is a sense of privacy in a moment like that, and they didn’t ask.”

Dukeheart also spoke with the photographer, Emmanuel Dunand:

[W]hen he took Marie’s photo, he knew she was suffering, but that he simply didn’t want to bother her. He thought that leaving her alone was the most respectful thing to do.

NPR solicited reader comments on whether photographers should “interact with their subjects in moments of grief” to ask permission and names, or if it is “more respectful to leave them alone.” Dukeheart summarizes the responses here.

(Photo: Aline Marie prays outside St. Rose of Lima church in Newtown, Conn., on the day of the school shooting. Marie noted in her message to NPR that she was “not asking [them] to take the photo down, nor [was she] offended.” By Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images.)