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Picture Show: Timothy Briner's Sandy Images and our Latest #Fieldwork Photo Assignment

How does one photograph trauma and maintain a genuine sensitivity to his or her subject?

In early December, The New York Post drew criticism for its cover photo of a man seconds before he was hit by a train. It was unnerving that a photographer could value capturing a moment over intervening to help the man. Photographing disaster has been a sensitive issue since Robert Capa’s infamous Death of a Loyalist image, and is especially relevant in wake of the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy. How does one photograph trauma and maintain a genuine sensitivity to his or her subject?


Since Sandy hit, Timothy Briner has photographed neighborhoods in Brighton Beach and Coney Island, documenting their preparation, experience, and efforts to rebuild from the storm. Instead of taking a "shoot and run" approach, Briner has inserted himself into the affected communities, produced a substantial body of inspiring images, and has returned multiple times to rephotograph and check up on the people he originally captured.

Paying it forward, Timothy has created GOOD's next photographic DO: Make a portrait of someone who has gone out of their way for you. To fulfill this Field Work Assignment, tweet the photo to us @GOOD with the hashtag #Fieldwork with a sentence about what they did.


In Seagate, a private community located in Coney Island, a man tosses concrete and debris from his home. Thursday, November 1, 2012.


Sheila stands outside of the NYCHA O'dwyer Garden Houses in Coney Island. The last of the six O'dwyer Houses reestablished power 16 days after Hurricane Sandy. Monday, November 12, 2012.


Dorian of Coney Island shares a photo of his apartment and points to the level of the flood waters during Hurricane Sandy. Sunday, November, 11, 2012.


Dorian and his wife Roxanne were cooking dinner when the waters from the flood began to rush into their home. They lost everything on the first floor of their apartment. Sunday, November 11, 2012.


Sergey at his home in the Sea Rise II housing complex. Tuesday, November 6, 2012.


People wait in line at a temporary distribution center, located at the Coney Island Gospel Assembly, to receive needed supplies. Friday, November 9, 2012.


Marie lost all of her belongings during the flood surge in Coney Island and is sleeping on a wet and moldy couch in her apartment on the ground floor of Sea Rise II housing complex. Maria refuses to leave her apartment in fear of looters. Thursday, November 1, 2012.


Michelle & Jessica play with debris from the storm on Brighton Beach while a man sleeps under the sun. Friday, November 9, 2012.


Gabriel was living with neighbors after the flood waters from Hurricane Sandy destroyed most of his belongings. Thursday, November 1, 2012.


A Metro Ministries van visits children at NYCHA's Coney Island Houses. Friday, December 14, 2012.

Christmas Tree, Searise II Housing Development, Coney Island, NY, December 25, 2012.

A family poses for a photograph after receiving Christmas presents and clothing from the New Church International on Neptune Avenue in Coney Island. December 23, 2012.

Parachute Jump, Coney Island, NY, December 23, 2012

A couple embrace after participating in The Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Years Day Plunge, Coney Island, NY, January 1, 2013.

We’re challenging the GOOD community to commit our time to service. Go here to pledge 1 percent of your time—that’s 20 hours—being part of the solution this year.

Photos courtesy of Timothy Briner


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