The central theme of his Project Haiti Aftermath, focuses on the massive earthquake in Haiti on 12 January 2010 and its consequences. Jan Grarup’s portfolio shows the extent of the catastrophe and the fate of the survivors in pictures of enormous intensity. The destruction is appalling. A precise count and identification of the victims is difficult due to the enormous devastation. Even today the number of victims can only be estimated, and the government assumes a death toll of around 300,000 people, with more than three million affected by the quake. The earthquake is therefore considered to be the most severe quake in the history of North and South America.
Jan Grarup travelled to Haiti on an assignment for Le Monde and Russian Reporter to document the catastrophic consequences of the natural disaster. He sees his mission as a photographer as much more than the simple depiction of the current situation. His masters are Sebastiano Salgado i Eugene Smith. The first one created pictures which on the surface are extremely beautiful even though they depict very rough issues, but if you look deeper into the work you see all the important stuff. Smith is unique in terms of telling stories — he was a master storyteller. The aim of Grarup’s black-and-white, sophisticated shots is to generate emotion. The earthquake took everything the Haitians had: their belongings, the roof over their heads, their friends and relatives. Their lives lie in ruins. Fear and despair is written on their faces. They have lost all they ever owned and often even risk the only thing left to them in the search for food and water: their lives. The police and private security forces attempt to protect the remaining stocks of provisions and do not hesitate to defend them with weapons, as Jan Grarup’s pictures show.
Jan Grarup (Danish, b.1968) has over the course of his 18-year career photographed many of recent history’s defining human rights and conflict issues. His work reflects his belief in photojournalism’s role as an instrument of witness and memory to incite change and the necessity of telling the stories of people who are rendered powerless to tell their own. Grarup’s images take the viewer to the limits of human despair, dignity, suffering and hope. His images are relevant to us all because they form a chronicle of the time in which we live, but at times do not dare to recognize. He has already won numerous prestigious awards from the photographic industry and human rights organisations, such as World Press Photo, UNICEF, W.Eugene Smith Foundation for Humanistic Photography, POYi and NPPA. In 2005 he was awarded with a Visa d’Or at the Visa Pour l’Image photo festiwal in France, for his coverage of Darfur’s refugee crisis. Grarup’s work regularly appears in major magazines such as Newsweek, The Guardian, Sunday Times Magazine (UK) and other magazines worldwide. Based in Copenhagen, Jan Grarup works as a freelancer on both commercial and journalistic projects. He lives outside Copenhagen with his wife and their three children.
Grarup is also NOOR co-founder, an international non-profit organization based in Amsterdam, Holland for creating and distributing compelling photojournalistic works with the aim to raise awareness, enhance an understanding of the world and to contribute to the visual history of mankind. The foundation facilitates the production of photographic projects through exhibitions and publications, stimulating public dialogue. Photojournalistic educational initiatives are at the core of the foundation’s activities. The NOOR Foundation’s mission is to provide the impetus to undertake documentary photography and educational projects and spread the NOOR philosophy.