Two days after Sept. 11 photographer Vince Laforet (J97) flew to Pakistan
on assignment for the New York Times. Two weeks later he headed
to Quetta, a city near the Afghan border noted for its lawlessness, intertribal
frictions and overflowing Afghan refugee camps.
Laforet quickly learned where he needed to go to get the photos that told
what was happening. "The stories were behind the lines in those weeks
before the war started in Afghanistan," he says. "I love to
tell stories behind the front lines: the effect of the war on children
and mothers and refugees, the people left behind after the bombs fall,
after the riots are over."
Last October the Times posted Laforets photo journal from
Pakistan on the papers Web site along with his voiceover commentary.
Within the first few weeks he received more than 2,000 e-mail messages
about the journal.
"I heard from World War II veterans, Holocaust survivors and literally
from people all over the world," says Laforet. "The gist of
many of these messages was, Thanks for humanizing these people.
I also received e-mails from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in which people
wrote, You created a balanced photo essay for a Western journalist.
"To get one letter just makes my day," says the photographer.
"The Pakistan photo journal and the response have been the single
most rewarding experience of my career."
For Laforet the journey to Pakistan was a turning point. "This assignment
was a crossroads in my life," he says. "I had to ask myself,
Why am I doing this? I came close to getting seriously hurt
or killed, but it was worth it. I did change peoples perspective
or added to it. I showed something they couldnt see or didnt
want to see."
To view more of Laforets images of Pakistan, visit his photo journal,
"The Frontiers of War," at the New York Times Web
site at this location.
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