Hibakusha-Survivors

9 images Created 28 Jul 2015

This past spring, I learned that a group of elderly Hibakusha  - persons who had survived the
World War II atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
-would be in New York City to attend the International Peace & Conference for a nuclear-free, just and sustainable world.  The Hibakusha would be speaking at the United Nations during the nuclear disarmament talks, and also at various venues in the New York City area. They would be sharing their devastating personal experiences from when the
atomic bombs were dropped, and participate in a protest march bearing banners: 
"No more Hiroshima.  No more Nagasaki"

Meeting this group of Japanese atomic bomb survivors and capturing each person authentically was a once in
a lifetime opportunity that called to me.

Many of the Hibakusha were in New York City for only 5 days.  I faced multiple challenges: I had no sponsors for the project, I am originally from Montreal and do not speak Japanese, I had to arrange the photo sessions on short notice squeezed into their packed schedules, and often
I had just 5 to 10 minutes to capture
what I sought with strobe lighting/ambient-light.

There were also cultural challenges.
I discovered that how I worked as a French Canadian photographer did not always mesh with Japanese customs  and expectations. 

However, being committed to creating as many portraits as possible, acknowledging each person and their story and honor them in an exhibit, empowered me to keep going no matter what the circumstances!

As I captured each Hibakusha's expression as
they remembered a painful past, and looked to a peace fulfuture, the experience was remarkable,
awesome and unforgettable

It is with deep gratitude to the Japanese community for their support in making this project possible that I present this
tribute to the Hibakusha and their legacy for world peace.
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