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Lexey Swall October 22, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Haiti.

Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Ville-Bonheur, Haiti, 2010

Lexey Swall (b. 1977, USA) has been a photojournalist for the past ten years. She recently quit her staff job at the Naples (Fla.) Daily News to form GRAIN, a photography collective, with fellow documentary photographers, Greg Kahn and Tristan Spinski. Lexey grew up in Bakersfield, California, an oil and agriculture town at the bottom of the San Joaquin Valley known for country music and dust storms. She studied photojournalism and women’s studies at San Jose State University. She has garnered awards from POYi and NPPA Best of Photojournalism competitions, including an honorable mention for the 2006 Photographer of the Year (small markets) in BOP.

About the Photograph:

“This photo was taken in July 2010 during the annual pilgrimage to Saut d’Eau in Ville-Bonheur, Haiti. It was seven months after the magnitude-7.0 earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people and left about one million Haitians homeless. Every year, Haitians flock to Saut d’Eau to be blessed under the sacred waterfall and worship in the town church. The church was filled to capacity during each of the Catholic masses held throughout this particular day. I was waiting to enter the church – crushed between dozens of people behind me pushing to try to enter and hundreds who were trying to exit. The police tried to control the flow through the doors so no one was injured. I had other images that I shot while holding my camera above my head to try to show the density of crowd. But, this image, to me, feels more like I felt in that moment. It was cramped. There was no such thing as personal space. I can’t count how many photos I’ve seen come out of Haiti where people are in lines pushing against one another. I finally understood what it felt like to be in that situation. I didn’t know at the time that the man in this photo looked at me when I photographed him. But, when I saw it later, I felt it made this photo even more authentic to the moment. There is an intimacy with making eye contact.”