Photo By Karl Melander
“If you have looked at a newspaper article about Haiti over the past 25 years, the chances are excellent that you have seen the work of the photographer Daniel Morel. He is himself Haitian; he has been a witness to much of the turbulence in his country; and other journalists have credited him with saving their lives in the streets of Port-au-Prince. It is not easy to work as a journalist in Haiti, where people are dignified but poor, and lashed at times by political violence and natural disaster. Morel’s thought-provoking photos captured moments of pain, fear, death, and anarchy.”
— Reporter James North
Daniel Morel was born in Haiti in 1951. The day he discovered photography wasn’t the happiest of days, but it set the stage for the rest of his life. It was November 12, 1964, in Port-au Prince. The Haitian government canceled school and people were bussed in from from miles around to watch the execution of Louis Drouin and Marcel Numa. The two young men were the last two survivors of a thirteen member group that called themselves “Jeune Haiti” (meaning Young Haiti). The group had planned to overthrow the regime of Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier. The next day, a photographer who had shot the rebels’ deaths frame by frame posted them in the front of his studio. Morel said it was a gruesome sight for a young child – but it made him realize that he wanted to take pictures too. “I thought that by being a photographer, I would learn not to be scared of anything.”
For over 20 years, Morel has documented his native country, capturing culture, history and people. No photojournalist has covered as many presidents and coups d’état, ceremonies and pilgrimages, demonstrations and massacres, hurricanes or harvests. Morel’s photographs have appeared in the New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Wall Street Journal and throughout the world. He was the resident photographer for the Associated Press for fourteen years until 2004, and has received Citation for Excellence from the Overseas Press Club of America, the AP Award of Excellence and the Sam Chavkin Prize for Integrity in Latin American Journalism. He has been the recipient of grants from the Soros / Open Society Foundation Documentary Photo Project to host a series of photo exhibitions in Haiti and New York aimed at enabling Haitian Americans and Haitians in Haiti to address their past and collaborate toward a positive future. As a Producer, his film projects include Unfinished Country about the Haiti elections that aired on Wide Angle on PBS in 2006, and When the Drum is Beating, a feature length documentary currently in post-production about the revered Haitian big band, Septentrional.