Every Photograph Tells a Story When You’re Lucky Enough to Find the Right One Before Deadline and Under Budget (Phew!)
Searching for visual assets to use on my Plan B natural hazard planning site is a bit tricky. And flickr has simultaneously made my job easier and more difficult.
First of all I need images that illustrate the facts of a natural hazard event such as an earthquake or super storm. Remember how Super Storm Sandy devastated the northeast coast last year? Out of all of the media coverage there are probably only a few images that you remember. They stayed with you because of their dramatic impact. You remember feeling terrified for the people in peril at the moment the picture was made. You remember imaging yourself struggling to reach your children as the ocean rushed through your home.
The images that I’ll use on my website should have the strength those memorable photos have. But I need to show more than disaster. I need photos that record the destructive power of a natural hazard and show people coping with the disaster and surviving it. The images I choose must motivate users to see how important it is for them to develop their own natural hazard emergency plan.
Plan B users need to see images and experience short videos that document people who have survived natural hazard events. A powerful image of a city street cracked in half by an earthquake might get a user to stop on the page. A photo showing neighbors caring for one another in the immediate chaos following a devastating storm encourages users to believe that it’s possible for these events to have hopeful outcomes. Those images will spark the idea that a website like Plan B can help us weather the storms together.
Exploring the various “disaster” photography groups on flickr made me think outside of the regional box I was in when I started considering visual assets for Plan B. flickr showcases the world with its wide collection of natural hazard photographs from faraway places. These images are ready to be studied and appreciated. They will allow my users in Seattle a chance to see that they share vulnerability with families thousands of miles away from them. This connection to a wider world is at the heart of the Plan B philosophy.
A Plan B user starts a plan that works for their family and their neighborhood. As this user develops hyperlocal community awareness they’re encouraged to see themselves in other parts of the world. A family in Seattle storing a supply of food and water can be inspired to find a way to support a family or NGO ensuring a safe supply of water, food or medical care for people in danger. Plan B empowers you to plan hope and better days for all.
My flicker Groups
Plan B starts where I live and I live in the USA. This group offers a wide range of photos documenting emergency preparedness around the country. It’s the first place for me to start looking for images and photographers interested in collaborating with me on my project. Joining this group also makes sense because searches for Pacific Northwest regional groups yielded limited results. I’ll start here, make connections and contact group members to request help locating images for my home region.
Group Administer: I hope this site helps connect all those who put themselves in harms way to help protect the innocent and vulnerable. Your photos and expertise are welcome here!
Let’s get generic! At this time I’m still getting my eyes adjusted to the range of natural disaster photography available online. I’ve joined this group to educate my eyes. I want to see what kind of pictures people are making. I want to discover interesting images with a universal qualities that could work on the Plan B site. This group promises a wide angle, which is just what I need right now.
Group Administer: This group is for people who have pictures of any Natural Disasters and want to post them. Also post if you have pics of Disaster relief teams in action.
Be Red Cross Ready
Of course I’m going to include the Red Cross in my list of flickr groups. I’ll use this group to begin a conversation with the larger organization and their publicity or journalism department. I’ve taken several emergency preparedness classes sponsored by the local Red Cross and star in a few photos – all bandaged up during first aid training. I hope to start a flickr group for my local and regional Red Cross emergency preparedness classes.
Group Administer: This group is for all the people who are preparing themselves and their families. The American Red Cross hosts it. Please join, show us your photos and share your experiences.
What’s In Your Disaster Kit?
They always talk about the disaster kit. Most emergency preparation websites offer their own version of the disaster kit – food, water, medicine, warm clothes, flashlight, a good book. The images provided in this group will be useful as I begin to develop the site. I will use them as placeholders until I can create my own disaster kit photos.
Group Administer: Annotated pictures of your disaster kit, the thing you created in case of emergencies. Earthquakes. Hurricanes. Blizzards. Tornados. Wildfires. Whatever. When it happens, you wanna be prepared. You’re always “meaning” to put one together, right? Help prod one another on. Post photos of yours. And if you need to start one, or add to yours (I do), get to it!
Visualizing Disaster Risk Reduction
This is an invitation only group and it’s managed by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). I have written a note requesting membership. I hope to be admitted to this group since it’s a source of images that connect the idea of local planning and single family planning to the larger world. I include these photos to encourage Plan B users to think about people in need around the world. As Plan B users become safer and self-reliant at home in the US I want them to see the need in the larger world and believe that they can do something to help. Here’s my note to the Group Administer:
I’m enrolled in a Digital Publishing program at the University of Washington, WA, USA.
I am developing a natural hazard emergency preparation website for my program project and am interested in finding visual resources to illustrate planning concepts and spark community discussions about risk reduction and resource planning.
By including images – with CC permissions – that illustrated issues and solutions from around the world I hope to elevate the discussion from local and regional to international. I want to explore the idea that as we develop resources for our own home and neighborhood we can consider and find a way to support communities outside of our daily experience. We help ourselves. We help one another. We build a better world.
Thank you for your consideration. – Mark MacKay
Group Administer: We’ve just added some photos from our exhibition in New York entitled “Saving the Day After Tomorrow: Accelerating sustainable development through disaster risk reduction”! Do you have photos that represents disaster risk reduction? Submit them to the group!
I’m a creative person. I’m an artist. I make paintings and installation art. I included this group because I need to see some images that are gleeful after looking at all of these disasters. This group serves as a reminder that the perfect image isn’t always where you think it is. This group reminds me to be open to serendipity. Wonderful accidents happen when they’re least expected.
Group Administer: Images of installation art.
*Apologies to fans of Mary O’Hara and the horse they rode in on.