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Now And Then: Disaster Images From The Gulf Coast

Credit: All photographs by Ted Jackson

On Monday's program, we talked with New Orleans Times-Picayune photographer Ted Jackson and NPR's Keith Jenkins, Senior Supervising Producer for Multimedia about the challenges of photographing disaster zones.

Both men have first-hand knowledge about the subject. Before gracing us with his expertise here at NPR, Jenkins spent many years as Photo Editor for The Washington Post. Jackson has been working for the big newspaper in New Orleans for years. As a result, he — with his camera lens in tow — has been an eye-witness to disasters experienced by the region.

Specifically, we wanted to know about the contrasts between photographing hurricanes and environmental disasters, such as the gulf oil spill. For instance, with Hurricane Katrina there was tangible human despair and a massive loss of human life — and then there was the photogenic reaction to all of that. With the Gulf oil spill — already described by President Obama as "the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced" — what was more tangible was the perceived assault on wildlife and the seas with scenes of crude-drenched shore lines and animals wading through oil.

The pictures above offer a closer look at this contrast and what, for some photojournalists, is also very much conflicted photography.

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