The Digital Journalist
November 2007

by PF Bentley

View the Voodoo movie by PF Bentley

Les Stone and I met in Haiti in November of 1987 while covering the ill-fated first "free" elections after the Duvaliers were removed from power.

Thirty-four Haitians were massacred, one journalist killed and several more wounded that day as Duvalier's former henchmen, the Ton-Ton Macoutes, made sure that the election would be nullified and be remembered by Haitians and the journalists alike.

For Les Stone it will always be memorable as it was his first trip out of the country and his first trip to Haiti. (He'll also remember to take the insurance when renting a car there as his car was riddled with bullet holes.) Since then he has been to Haiti over 50 times, most of these trips on his own dime to record the ongoing turmoil in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, forgotten by most despite being only 90 minutes from Miami.

On the surface Haiti is a photojournalist's paradise. It appears that all you need to do is hold the camera up, press the shutter and you'll have an image with more grit and depth than you could imagine. But to capture the real Haiti, one must endure the daily dangers of violence in a place where any foreigner stands out, and with a culture very foreign to the average American.

The violence is only one aspect; the culture and the unfaltering dignity of the Haitian people are another.

Les has endured much over the years to make these photographs and has gotten as deeply into the culture as a "blanc" could ever do. His trips continue to this day.

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© PF Bentley

PF Bentley is lead Final Cut Pro instructor at the Platypus Workshops. We won't bore you here with his 12-page bio & resume.