Portraits Of Haitians In Miami : The Picture Show Photographer Bruce Weber is best-known for his shots of models and celebrities. But his recent work is more personal: An exhibition showcases photographs of Haitians in Miami.
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Portraits Of Haitians In Miami

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Portraits Of Haitians In Miami

Portraits Of Haitians In Miami

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H: From Miami, NPR's Greg Allen reports.

GREG ALLEN: For Bruce Weber, Miami is home.

BRUCE WEBER: I first came here working for Calvin Klein, and we went down to South Beach. And I fell in love with the beach and the water.

ALLEN: But he's here not just for the beach. Weber is also drawn to Miami's neighborhoods.

WEBER: You know, people always say to me: Well, what's the best part of Miami? And I say it's people, because they're all so many characters.

ALLEN: Weber says he asked Demme what he could do to help Haiti.

WEBER: And he said, Bruce, take your camera, go to Krome. Go to the people of Little Haiti.

ALLEN: That's Krome, as in the Krome Detention Center, a federal facility near Miami where Haitians are held, pending deportation. In 2003, he went there with Haitian advocates and was shocked at what he found. Weber says he's visited prisons before on photo assignments.

WEBER: But never did I have a chill like I did when I went to Krome. And I saw men just treated so terribly because of where they're from and who they are.

ALLEN: Krome and the plight of Haitian asylum seekers is far from the world of models, celebrities and fashion where Bruce Weber is one of the most sought-after photographers. But while taking those assignments, Weber has always found time for more personal work, such as his 2007 film profiling a gritty Miami neighborhood: "Liberty City is Like Paris to Me."

WEBER: The people in this community suffered through the riots of the 1980s, and they experienced continual poverty and unjust immigration laws. But they were able to rebuild and rise far above what others once thought was impossible.

ALLEN: For his journey through the Haitian community, Weber had an expert guide. Marleine Bastien is well-known through her work with the non-profit group she heads, Haitian Women of Miami. She introduced him to the community and worked with him almost as a collaborator.

MARLEINE BASTIEN: He's able to communicate to them in ways that other people can't. And he becomes like their interpreter. He touches their soul, and then he's interpreting to others what the Haitian people have been through.

ALLEN: In the exhibit, his photo shows four young women smiling - beautiful, with a lot of personality. That was especially so, Weber says, with one of the girls, Barbara Adrien.

WEBER: Her personality was so strong and so vibrant that I can only compare it to the time I was photographing Leonardo DiCaprio when he was a young boy. We went to Coney Island together, and it was just like an explosion of life. You could have taken a million pictures of her. You could have made a million movies about her.

ALLEN: Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami.

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