By Ivonne Arroyo M.
Colombian photojournalist Jesús Abad Colorado looked at the pain in the face. He was in front, to the side, behind him, always looking for his most sincere look to portray the face of an armed conflict with so many actors, places, and moments as fronts from which the camera could be shot.
For Abad Colorado, journalism and photography are not commodities, but "a service to society" that deserves the Gabo Award 2019. From there – from his sensitivity and sense of ethics – snapshots are taken that enable us to understand that "the other person who is there (in the photos) is somehow who I am".
"For me, death is represented ethically because I cannot trivialize a person's life. I have to work with great respect because what I want to create is reflection." It is one of the slogans of Abad Colorado, who gave lessons (and visions) about photographing Colombia's recent and painful history during his lecture "Portraits of a War Between Brothers", held on the second day of the Gabo Festival 2019 in Medellín from an open and pluralistic perspective, without judgment and as a means of "overcoming impunity". Here is an overview of some of them:
Searching for new stories
“The key is to go back and tell other stories. I have often seen the pain directly, but there are also boys and girls who stand in the same room and sometimes smile with a photographer and a journalist. I do not return to these places just once, but often to survive and rely on life. "
Take a position
“If you know that a fire ends a forest, work to prevent another fire. If you know who the losers of a war are, how we experienced and went through them, it is very easy to promote the war and choose war options. For me, a peace agreement doesn't mean supporting the FARC guerrillas who come to Congress. For me, a peace agreement is to defend the lives of simple, humble people in the east, from Chocó, the indigenous people, the leaders, men and women who risk their lives in the fields. "
Rate the certificates
“A picture says no more than a thousand words. My pictures without my certificates or those of the churches would make no sense. The two have to come together to produce what journalists do over the years. Journalism must therefore have a lot of context and a lot of memory. "
Name and give them faces
"Why do I call them (farmers and social leaders)? So don't forget us. Why do I make a portrait of them in life? To give them a face and a name because I say about this country: our dead, our victims, the resistance and the survivors cannot be statistics. We are here to tell stories and please stop saying … (…) The death of every man and woman should hurt us, but if we turn them into numbers, we will lose them. "
Humanize the protagonists
“When I go back to these places to walk between Afro and Indigenous people, it means that humanity has to live between us, which the teachers have taught us in a country where most of the missing people live a lot of violence has happened (…) Sometimes we let this seed of hatred grow. "
Accompany the communities
“Journalism is done on foot and we look at our people who go with them to write their stories, so the word inhabits us if we want to summarize it in a few characters. The farmers must count on their animals and crops. "
About the Gabo Prize and the Gabo Festival
It is convened by the Gabo Foundation to promote the search for excellence, innovation and ethical coherence in journalism, inspired by the ideals and work of Gabriel García Márquez and in the dynamism of innovation. The creativity and leadership that characterize Medellín, Colombia.