Christopher Anderson: Haiti • Magnum Photos

Magnum Pro

Editorial Cultural Commercial Search Image Archive

Welcome to the New Magnum Photos Site

Explore the award-winning storytelling work of Magnum photographers here, or head to Magnum Pro to search and license photos from Magnum’s acclaimed image archive.

CONTINUE TO NEW SITE
SEARCH PHOTO ARCHIVE IN MAGNUM PRO
Social Issues

From Haiti to America

Christopher Anderson’s award-winning photojournalism aboard a sinking boat with Haitian migrants bound for America

Christopher Anderson

Christopher Anderson 44 Haitians attempt to sail from Haiti to the United States in a 23-foot homemade wooden boat named the 'Believe in God.' As the boat sinks, the coast-guard board the boat to rescue its passengers. (...)
Christopher Anderson In the hold of the boat 'Believe in God', some hundred miles off the coast of the Bahamas, after leaving L'lle de la Tortue, Haiti. The Haitians aboard are terrified as we realize that the boat is (...)
Christopher Anderson David is a tough, young Haitian who dreams of reaching America. He is willing to risk his life to leave Haiti. David dreams of becoming a rapper. He says his home in Haiti is like a prison for him (...)
Christopher Anderson A Haitian man drifts in and out of consciousness from dehydration. He was too weak to stand and had to be carried from the boat by the coast-guard, who came to the rescue as 'The Believe in God' (...)
Christopher Anderson The main market area of Port au Prince burns following a riot and gun battle. Port au Prince, Haiti. 2000. © Christopher Anderson | Magnum Photos
Christopher Anderson Crew members take a break on the deck as the 'Believe in God' sets sail. Haiti. 2000. © Christopher Anderson | Magnum Photos
Christopher Anderson 44 Haitians attempt to sail from Haiti to the United States in a 23-foot homemade wooden boat named the 'Believe in God.' Haiti. 2000. © Christopher Anderson | Magnum Photos
Christopher Anderson Two workers take a break from boat building in the shade. On the L'Ile de la Tortue boats are made by hand from pine trees, scrap wood and used nails and are then used in attempts to sail from Hait (...)
Christopher Anderson As the 'Believe in God' sinks, the coast-guard boards the boat to rescue its passengers. Haiti. 2010. © Christopher Anderson | Magnum Photos
Christopher Anderson A Haitian man drifts in and out of consciousness from dehydration. He was too weak to stand and had to be carried from the boat by the coast-guard who came to the rescue as the 'Believe in God' b (...)

In 2000 Magnum’s Christopher Anderson joined journalist Michael Finkel and 44 Haitians aboard a 23-foot-long wooden boat named ‘Believe in God’, which was powered only by sails. The clandestine Haitians, mostly hiding below deck, were fleeing their home country with hopes of making a 600-mile journey to start a new life in the United States. But when the boat began to sink, all passengers – including the journalist and photographer – were in danger, with the United States Coast guards having to rescue them all off the coast of Florida. The photographs Anderson took earned him the Robert Capa Gold Medal award. For the Magnum Contact Sheets Book, Anderson recalled the events:

“A couple of days into our journey, the boat began to sink. We were doomed and we knew it. We started saying goodbye to one another. Strangely, it was quite calm on the boat. There was not much to do except resign oneself to the inevitability of it all. Up to that point, I had not taken many pictures. Everyone on the boat knew I was a photographer, but it somehow had not felt right. It’s difficult to explain. But as the boat sank, David, the Haitian whom I had followed on this journey, said to me, ‘Chris, you’d better start making pictures. We only have an hour to live.’ And so, without much thought, I began making pictures.

We were saved at the last moment by a US coast guard cutter that happened upon us, but that’s another story. Much later on, back home safe, I reflected on this question: why make pictures that no one will ever see? The only explanation for me was that the act of photographing had more to do with the explaining of the world to myself than explaining something to someone else. The pictures were about communicating something about my experience, not about reporting literal information. This would be the single most transformative moment of my photographic life.”