Return to Sierra Leone

I am leaving tomorrow to Freetown, Sierra Leone filled with feelings of anxiety as well as hope. The last time I was there was just a few months after the brutal civil war ended in 2002 that claimed tens of thousands of lives and left more than a third of its population displaced. Yet it is the unspeakable atrocities that are so haunting. I remember back in 1999, Miguel Gil Moreno de Mora, a friend and extremely committed journalist, who was later killed covering the conflict, told me stories of rebels offering their victims the choice between a “long sleeve” or “short sleeve” just as they were about to hack off their victims’ arms. When I arrived, three years later, I saw faces devoid of expression, weighed down by these horrific memories. The goal was not just to kill people but to terrorize an entire population.

Today security and the politics are steadily improving but there is a quieter battle still going on.  One in eight women are dying giving birth. The government recently announced free health care to pregnant women, breast-feeding mothers and children under five beginning on April 27. With only about 170 doctors for more than 5 million people, this will be a daunting task.  I hope this documentary can raise awareness, promote change and help. The doctors, health workers and government are working hard to change the statistics.

If you are interested in learning more about this or want to donate, the following links are to organizations working there.

Unicef

Marie Stopes International

Doctors Without Borders

Amnesty International

Where can I find interviews about your career?

This is a blog for Nikon Professional Services where I talk about my style and equipment used on assignment.

http://nps.nikonimaging.com/members/ami_vitale/

The talented Steve Casimiro, a photographer and editor for National Geographic’s Adventure magazine has created a wonderful blog called the Adventure Life. I was honored that he invited me for this interview.

http://www.theadventurelife.org/2009/07/ami-vitales-beautiful-cultures-and-powerful-documentary/

Field Notes from a National Geographic story I did on the Rickshaw Pullers of Kolkata, India.
http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/04/kolkata-rickshaws/vitale-field-notes

This is an advertisement I did for Nikon using the D300s camera and video capabilities.
http://imaging.nikon.com/products/imaging/lineup/microsite/d300s/special/en/index.html#

Here is an interview I did about convergence of stills and video for the Poynter Institute. http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=2&aid=172745

This is an interview by Susan Markisz for the Digital Journalist, a virtual online almanac for visual journalists created by Dirck Halstead. It was written when I was just beginning my career as a photojournalist in 2003.
http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue0301/av_intro.html

Blueeyes Magazine is an online documentary photography magazine devoted to publishing new long-term project work. It is a labor of love created by a dedicated group of people including John Loomis, Chris Vivion, Matthew Ratajczak, Seth Bro and Jill Thomas.

http://blueeyesmagazine.com/index.php?/essay/indiv/portfolio_vitale/

This was one of the very first interviews I gave for Photobetty.com, which was a true labor of love started by the legendary and lovely Stephanie Sinclair and carried on by Serena Stucke, who is also an incredibly dedicated and talented photographer and editor.
http://www.photobetty.com/amivitale

This is a comprehensive gallery of many fine art gallery photographers exhibited together along with photojournalists.
http://www.pixiport.com/Gallery-GC66.htm

James Robinson is a passionate photographer and has some wonderful interviews here.
http://jrphoto.wordpress.com/spotlight-interview-photojournalist-ami-vitale/

Eight Ways to change the World, A photography exhibition on the Millennium Development Goals by Panos Pictures, in association with seven charities.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/millenniumgoals/graphic/0,,1563959,00.html

Israel/Palestine

A young teenage Palestinian couple defy a curfew and dance together during their wedding ceremony  in the West Bank city of Nablus. A British non-governmental agency recently reported that Palestinians are currently living in a state of extreme, worsening poverty and fear for their future. Almost three-quarters of Palestinians now live on less than US$2 a day, below the United Nations poverty line.