by Echo Luo
photos by Iris Yang
Four-time Pulitzer-Prize winner William Snyder cares more about people than the surrounding environment when reporting disasters, he said.
“Unlike many photographers, news agencies in general, we didn’t focus on the destruction, we didn’t focus on the buildings…we focus on people,” he said. This doesn’t mean journalist should ignore the destruction, he added.
Snyder and his team’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005 won The Dallas Morning News a Pulitzer Prize in photography.
Snyder showed a photo of a woman sitting on the edge of an empty highway. “You know she is worried. You may look at the expression on her face, you can see all from her body language,” he said. “And a good picture can give the audience a way into the whole sensitive situation and know where she was, how she felt.”
Journalists went beyond just reporting during the hurricane, he said. Because of a story headlined “I just want to find my baby,” a separated family was reunited.
“We have a lot of stories like that, people recognized we were in places maybe their families were. And we did it sometimes, we even wrote stories about it, but it was a part of what we had to do,” Snyder said.
Snyder is currently professor and chair of the photojournalism program at Rochester Institute of Technology.