Photographer Jens Honoré recently had the opportunity to visit the Saint Damien Pediatric Hospital in Haiti, invited to photograph the daily life within the hospital.
The Saint Damien Pediatric Hospital is a non-profit hospital, founded in 1989 by NPH (USA) and is supported through public donations of the NPH USA’s St. Damien Pediatric Hospital Fund.
Jens Honoré writes…
When carrying out an assignment like this and photographing the emotional state present within a hospital, it can be quite a delicate challenge especially for someone outside of the community. It requires one to be very discreet, respectful, sensitive to the patient as well as sensitive to the overall tone and atmosphere surrounding that patient.
My approach was quite simple, to keep the images as simple as possible and for my presence to be as informal as possible. No lights or any other tools were used, no assistant or guide, just me, my camera and the subject. I knew that I needed a system that could work under challenging light conditions but I wanted a system that would deliver the absolute highest quality files. Although discretion is high on the priority list for a project like this, and Medium Format is perhaps not known for it’s discrete size, the choice to use Medium Format was made for a number of reasons.
First and foremost in my decision to use medium format was the image quality offered by the XF Camera System. Some of the best optics, high resolution and the shallow depth of field possible in medium format were big on my list to ensure I could deliver an end result I could be proud of. There is also the feel of medium format. The photojournalist reportage style of a project like this is quite common. It’s of course not a bad thing, but it wasn’t what I had envisioned for these images. I wanted something that would set these images apart from the typical delivery and I thought that the different aspects of medium format would work well to achieve that.
I wanted the resulting images to reflect as much the subject as the atmosphere. Hospitals are not exactly associated with joy and celebration, but neither are they entirely bleak and somber. The atmosphere of the hospital is what the patient makes it and I wanted to capture a depth in the images that hopefully reflected that atmosphere. It’s that depth that I felt required something different from DSLR, something I knew from experience only a medium camera system could deliver. The XF Camera System proved to be the right choice when I weighed all that I wanted to deliver for this project. It had all the features I needed in order to produce the photographs exactly how I envisioned them.
Although the end result may not depict an overtly happy tone, I believe I delivered the images in a manner that reflects the subjects themselves. I’m sure everyone can agree that a sick or suffering child is something no one would ever want to see; yet it’s an unfortunate and unforgiving part of life. There is melancholy to the images that one can’t avoid; this is the unfortunate truth surrounding illness, especially in children. However, due to the generosity and hard work of the people at Saint Damien Pediatric Hospital, and the NPH USA organization, there is hope, there is care and there is love.
I’d like to thank the good people at Saint Damien Pediatric Hospital in Haiti for allowing me to photograph and for all their patience and care towards the children of Haiti in need of their care.
Learn more about St Damien Pediatric Hospital here
Danish-born Jens Honoré has spent his professional life exploring the world through myriad lenses. Jens’ active engagement of both his subjects and surroundings have enabled him to create images that have garnered distinction among his peers and clients, as well as international awards in commercial, editorial and literary categories. Jens Honore is represented by Creative Photographers Inc (CPI)