Flares from a WPX Energy well pad light up the night sky behind a farmhouse which had leased its land for natural gas drilling in Franklin Township, Pa. (Nina Berman) Jude Stiles comforts her daughter Angelina Fiorentino after a seizure. The whole family suffered health impacts after natural gas drilling and upon medical advice fled their contaminated home in Fayetteville, Pa. (Nina Berman)
This post is part of the In Sight series, “PHOTOGRAPHERS edit PHOTOGRAPHERS.” In this installment, NOOR photographer Tanya Habjouqa edits the work of her colleague, Nina Berman.
Berman is an American documentary photographer, author and educator, whose photographs and videos have been exhibited at more than 100 international venues, including the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Portland Art Museum and Dublin Contemporary. Her work has received awards from the World Press Photo Foundation, Pictures of the Year International, the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Open Society Foundation. She is the 2016 Aftermath Project grant winner, the 2017 Susan Tifft fellow at the Center for Documentary studies at Duke University, and an associate professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Here’s what Habjouqa had to say about Berman’s work:
Nina Berman’s work always floors me — her mix of raw politics, poetic twists, and human despair. The fact that this fracking series began in 2010 and is still frighteningly relevant speaks to the intuitive approach she takes. Nina is frighteningly intelligent — and every work she undertakes is flawlessly researched and prescient. She was already exploring this environmental, corporate exploitation before it even registered in the mainstream media.
What I love about Nina’s work is while she focuses on political and social injustice — and those humans that are often the victims of it — she ascribes agency in how she represents them. Whether in her past work of wounded U.S. soldiers or victims of racism. This particular story unfolds like a Greek tragedy, and she smartly structured it along the lines of a play — the characters are stoic, actively resisting forces you cannot always tangibly access but sense in the eerie disruption of nature, sparks of orange looming in the distance and tired mothers nursing collapsed daughters. A weariness and wariness, and natural order askew. This work made me uncomfortable, this work made a far away headline relevant. This work — as awful as the subject is — is beautiful for its resisting humanity.
A methane flare at a gas drilling site illuminates an otherwise darkened road in Springville, Pa. (Nina Berman) Jodie Simons and Jason Lamphere demonstrate how their tap water ignites from methane. They claim nearby gas drilling contaminated their well water in Monroeton, Pa. (Nina Berman) Tamara Horn’s son Aidan shows a rash on his face, which his parents say is a result of drinking and washing with contaminated water brought on by Cabot Oil and Gas drilling activities in Dimock, Pa. (Nina Berman) Organic farmer Mary Delarosa prepares her family to move out of their home in Springville, Pa. The family left Pennsylvania for North Carolina because they didn’t want to live near natural gas compressor stations. (Nina Berman) Methane-filled water comes out of Jodie Simons’s kitchen faucet in Monroeton, Pa. (Nina Berman) A methane flare-off is photographed in the distance at a well pad in Springville, Pa. Flare-offs follow drilling and usually last several days, and are designed to release impurities. (Nina Berman) Nick Deremer, a Kayak tour operator, shows where methane has been bubbling in the Susquehanna River. (Nina Berman) Paige Simons at her home in Monroeton, Pa. She became sick after the family’s well water was contaminated with methane following natural gas drilling in the area. (Nina Berman) Stephen Cleghorn declares his farm forever frack free in a memorial tribute to his wife, Lucinda Hart Gonzalez, who died of breast cancer in Reynoldsville, Pa. (Nina Berman) Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission holds a meeting in Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection office. The commission was dominated by supporters of the natural gas industry. (Nina Berman) Dana Dolney, a breast cancer survivor, protests against gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) outside Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection office, where the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission was holding a meeting. (Nina Berman) Hydrocarbons are photographed through an FLIR camera in Dimock, Pa. (Nina Berman) A mosaic composite of a picture of a natural gas drilling rig and hundreds of time-coded images provided by resident Frank Finan, who logged truck traffic during a fracking operation. (Nina Berman)
More “PHOTOGRAPHERS edit PHOTOGRAPHERS” on In Sight:
Photographers edit photographers: Tanya Habjouqa’s provocative and mysterious images
Photographers edit photographers: A closer look at Benedicte Kurzen’s years covering South Africa
A Spanish photographer selects powerful images made by an American photographer on Chicago’s South Side
A Russian photojournalist selects powerful images about Africa made by his Italian colleague
In Sight is The Washington Post photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.