Vincent Laforet















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 Laforet’s photo journal from Pakistan on the paper’s 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 people’s perspective or added to it. I showed something they couldn’t see or didn’t want to see."

To view more of Laforet’s images of Pakistan, visit his photo journal, "The Frontiers of War," at the New York Times’ Web site at this location.