Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Glimpse of a new land

from the files...

Date: Summer, 1991.

Place: Straits of Florida.

I'm on assignment for the Philadelphia Inquirer taking pictures of Cuban rafters picked up in the waters 35 miles off Marathon.

A sport fishing boat has radioed the Coast Guard that they've come upon a makeshift raft.

We head out from Coast Guard Station Marathon to pick them up.

Once on scene the Guardsmen bring on board, 5 sun-burned Cuban men in their 20's, all tired, bearded, hungry and thirsty. It's high noon and the sun blazes down on the ragged men, but they are smiling.

The men are given life vests and water and they sit on the deck, exhausted but happy.

The patrol boat starts back to Marathon and soon we come within sight of land.

One man sees this and excited, stands up for his first glimpse of a new land.

He wobbles a bit, weakened by hunger and days at sea, and then reaches out for support.

I focus with a 20mm lens and snap the shutter.

As a photojournalist I get to see things first-hand that people read about in the paper the next day.

And I've covered many stories, a lot of them forgotten...somehow this story and image have stuck with me.

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