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And I realized that many of the people I was photographing might have been the very ones who had committed the massacres that I had witnessed just a few weeks before. And it was like taking the express elevator to hell.
Fear is not what's important; it's how you deal with it. It would be like asking a marathon runner if they feel pain. It's not a matter of whether you feel it; it's how you manage it. It could happen to any of us, anytime. An we all know that this is a distinct possibility every time we go out, everyday it's what we face. It comes with the territory, it's part of the job, you go in knowing that from the beginning. Nobody feels sorry for themselves; it's just part of it.
Every situation is different than the next. A lot of it was instinct, a lot of it is knowledge and absorbing information and coming to some sort of innate understanding of events.
While I was doing this reportage, I discovered a man who had one arm and one leg. He'd been run over by a train seven years ago on a drunken night and somehow managed to survive. He was living with his wife and four children in the gravel between railway tracks. I could see that he was very loving towards his children; that they also loved him in return. That he was trying his best to keep his family together. And spent quite a bit of time documenting the life of this family.
I began to do documentary photographs of poverty which is very widespread in Indonesia. There's terrible poverty. These are people who have jobs, raise families, it's very much a worker's neighbourhood. And this is what they have found themselves in; the longer railway tracks. These are not drug addicts or drop-outs; they work. They're trying to raise their families. They came in from the countryside looking for a better life, and they simply can't afford normal housing. So they build shacks of abandoned wood and plastic where there's no rent.
The most incomprehensible situation I've ever witnessed was Rwanda where we don't really know how many people died; the estimate of half a million to a million. They were killed with very primitive weapons; clubs and rocks and machetes, face to face. And I saw some massacre sites and I just do not understand how people can do that to each other. What can inspire such fear and such hatred? This is beyond my understanding really. It's very difficult to get over that.
For me, the strength of photography lies in its ability to evoke humanity. If war is an attempt to negate humanity, then photography can be perceived as the opposite of war.
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