Course:JRNL503B/Photojournalism Coverage of the 2015 Nepal Earthquake

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On April 25th, 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal. Several photojournalists were deployed to cover the event, but few focused on continued documentation of the aftermath and recovery efforts. Sumit Dayal and Omar Havana are two key photojournalists who documented the 2015 Nepal earthquake, its aftermath, and the restoration efforts of the Nepali people.

Sumit Dayal
Sumit Dayal
Personal Information
Born: 1981
Nationality: Nepali-Indian
Contact Information
[LinkedIn] Instagram

Omar Havana
Omar Havana
Personal Information
Born: 1975
Nationality: Spanish
Contact Information
[LinkedIn] Instagram
Website Facebook


Photojournalism is a form of journalism that uses images to tell stories. It is different from photography because it approaches telling stories through the lens of journalism and contributes to news media.

The early origins of photojournalism lie in war documentation. Two of the first recognized war photographers were Romanian painter and photographer Carol Szathmari and British photographer Roger Fenton who documented the Crimean War in the 1850s.

Photographs moved past being supplementary to texts and into being considered mediums of information and storytelling in the late 1870’s.[1] During this time the field expanded beyond war and disaster photography into social documentary. It has continued to branch out since then to cover all aspects of modern society.[2] However, disaster photography has continued to remain a popular method to document atrocities like war, natural disasters, refugee crises, social injustice, and conflicts.[3]

Social Media, New Tech, and Disaster Photojournalism

Information has become more readily available through technology and the emergence of other visual forms of journalism such as broadcast news and documentary film. Despite this, photojournalism remains an important method for powerful, immediate, and accessible storytelling.[4]

The rise of social media networks and new technologies extended the reach of photographs making them accessible to large audiences. Photojournalists can easily share their work publicly and quickly, not only through news organizations, but through their own social media networks as well. However, the wide availability of photographic technology and social media can also pose some difficulties for photojournalists and media outlets.[5] It is difficult to ascertain if photographs provided by citizens are manipulated[6] or truthful representations due to things like Photoshop and deepfakes. Despite smartphone technology making it easier for any person to take photographs of disasters, photojournalists continue their practice as professionals bound by certain standards, practices, and codes of ethics.[7]

Photojournalism Ethics

Many of the same codes of ethics that apply to journalism also apply to photojournalism. The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) is an American professional society dedicated to photojournalism. It has outlined seven ideal objectives and 10 key standards of ethics for photojournalists in their code of ethics.[8]

The seven objectives ask photojournalists to seek a diversity of viewpoints and to show unpopular or unnoticed points of view. The NPPA also encourages photojournalists to be humble in dealing with subjects and avoid political, civic or business involvements that might compromise their independence.

The 10 standards include accurate representation, resisting manipulation, maintaining integrity, avoiding conflicts of interest, and treating subjects with respect and dignity. Respecting subjects involves avoiding stereotyping, giving special consideration to vulnerable subjects, and giving compassion to victims of crime, tragedy, or disaster.

Photojournalism in Nepal

Photography began to gain momentum during the 1960s.[9] It was during this time when the Swiss geologist, Toni Hagen captured the country’s landscapes and the people that inhabited them.[10] Photography was not considered important to news reporting in Nepal until the late 1990s, given the high cost of a professional camera and lack of well-paying photojournalism jobs. Nepal’s media industry changed after the 1990s People’s Movement, which brought an end to absolute monarchy and adopted a constitutional monarchy and multi-party democracy. The historic event welcomed international photojournalists from distinguished media outlets and press agencies like the Associated Press and Reuters.[11] Well-established Nepali photojournalist, Min Ratna Bajracharya, an 18-year-old aspiring photojournalist at the time, captured the iconic photograph of student activist Durga Thapa leaping out of the crowd sporting a victory sign. The movement introduced constitutional rights and freedoms to the Nepali press, especially in the private sector. The People’s Movement paired with inexpensive entry level professional cameras, made photojournalism a viable career option in Nepal.[11]

Photojournalism Coverage and the 2015 Nepal Earthquake

The 2015 Nepal Earthquake

Map of the earthquake that struck Nepal and the surrounding region on April 25, 2015

On April 25th, 2015 at 11:56 Nepal Standard Time, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, known as the Gorkha Earthquake, struck Kathmandu, Nepal. The epicenter was in Barpak, Gorkha District, about 77 km northwest of the capital, Kathmandu. While the exact number of deaths and injuries remain unclear, statistics issued by the Nepali Police on June 22, 2015 stated that the main shock killed almost 9,000 people and left over 21,000 injured. [12]

The initial shock was followed by about 38 aftershocks on the same day in intervals of 15-20 minutes, most of which were around 4.5-5, and the two most major of which reached 6.6 and 6.7.[13] There were about 553 aftershocks in total over the first 45 days, though these were of a smaller magnitude. Another earthquake of 7.3 hit two weeks later on May 12th with its epicenter in the Dolakha district, about 76 km east of Kathmandu. More than 200 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured by this aftershock.[14] This was Nepal’s biggest natural disaster since 1934.[15] According to the United States Geological Survey, more than 500,000 houses were destroyed and 270,000 were damaged, generating damage costs of up to US$7 billion.[16]

International support of US$3 billion was pledged to rebuild Nepal. Led by India and China, the Asian Development Bank pledged $600 million, Japan pledged $260 million, the U.S. pledged $130 million, the EU pledged $100 million, and the World Bank agreed to contribute $500 million. India sent in 1,000 National Disaster Response Force personnel, deployed 13 aircrafts, 6 Mi-17 helicopters and 2 advanced light helicopters. China provided a search and rescue team of 62 people and promised $3.3 million in aid and supplies such as emergency shelters, blankets, clothing and power generators. [17][18]

Global News Coverage of the Earthquake

A research project conducted in 2015 by Geoscience Communication studied 32 worldwide news outlets on their coverage of earthquakes, including The New York Times, The Vancouver Sun, Times of India, The Guardian, and China Daily. According to their report, 71.4% of news items on seismic events in 2015 covered only three earthquakes (the Nepal earthquake, the Illapel earthquake in Chile, and the Hindu Kush earthquake between Afghanistan and Pakistan) out of the  total 1,559 events that were of a magnitude of higher than 5 that year. 59.7% of all the coverage of seismic events in 2015 was on the Nepal earthquake. According to the report, the Nepal earthquake coverage saw a general overrepresentation of the destruction, fatalities, secondary hazards, emergency response and rescue operations. Out of the total news coverage on the Nepal earthquake, only 5.6% of the news items touched on recovery and reconstruction.

Global news media have been criticized for focusing too much on the destruction caused by the earthquake in the main cultural sites of Kathmandu.

Many media critics slammed international news outlets and foreign correspondents for overemphasizing the devastation of the earthquake. A report by anthropologist Andrew Nelson criticized international media for its "orientalist gaze and disaster porn” which heavily relied on scenes of destruction at Kathmandu’s cultural heritage sites and victims stuck at the Mt. Everest base camp. Kunda Dixit, one of Nepal’s prominent journalists, accused foreign correspondents of overemphasizing stories within Kathmandu, and taking away from more pertinent issues facing hard hit rural villages.

A son wipes tears off his mother’s face after the earthquake. Photo captured by late Danish Siddiqui.

Photojournalists like the late Danish Siddiqui covered relief and recovery in villages and towns of Nepal outside of the Capital city for Al Jazeera. Two-time World Press Photo Award winner James Nachtwet also flew in Nepal after the earthquake. Nachtwet has been vocal about the ethical considerations of documenting tragedy and while photographing the events in Nepal or elsewhere, has often refrained from editing or taking any artistic liberties with his tragic images.[19]

Local News Media Coverage

A study conducted by Bharat Raj Poudel, a media and disaster management expert, investigated Nepali media coverage of natural disasters and found that local news organizations lack specific guidelines for disaster reporting. Consequently, the immediate aftermath of the disaster culminated in confusion, lack of coordination resulting in press shutdowns, delays in printing and a death of staff.  The study found that  Nepali newsrooms need to improve in many areas to manage news production when disasters strike.[20]

A four-month-old baby rescued 20 hours after being trapped under quake rubbles. Photo by Amul Thapa.

After the earthquake, several newsrooms were either partially or fully destroyed, rendering reporters without a workspace. Kantipur TV, the largest privately owned broadcaster, couldn't go on-air until they could set up a temporary station outside their headquarters.[21] Most newspapers continued their publication despite sustaining considerable damages, but distribution was severely affected. Even Nepal’s community radio, which is regarded as a pioneer in South Asia, faced severe disruptions in transmission.[22]

While there were disruptions, photojournalists did not stop documenting the destructive impact of the quake. One of the most popular and uplifting pieces of photojournalism from the tragedy is the image of a four-month-old baby pulled out alive from quake rubble.[23] Captured by a Nepali photojournalist, Amul Thapa, the image made rounds in social media and in several global publications. Reflecting on the event, Thapa said that he closely followed the operation for five hours. Instead of just being a casual observer, he also talked about participating in the rescue, controlling traffic and silencing crowds from drowning out the baby’s cries.[24]

Nepali photojournalist, Navesh Chitrakar’s work was also among some of the most influential. Some of his photographs taken for Reuters were enlisted in Nepal’s ‘Photos of the Year’, shortlisted out of 6,670 total submissions. [25]

Social Media and the Earthquake Coverage

The aftermath of the 2015 earthquake saw a surreptitious rise in social media consumption.[26] Since distribution of conventional media such as newspapers were initially disrupted, online news such as OnlineKhabar and Ekantipur saw a significant boost in viewership. This also heightened the popularity of social media pages that shared news from various sources, including news from legacy media houses and citizen journalists.[27]

Photo Kathmandu, Nepal’s first photography event hosted after the earthquake. Photos covering the public spaces of the historic city of Patan. Photo by Annette Ekin

A striking example is that of a social media page called ‘Routine of Nepal Banda’ (RONB). The page began in 2011 as a platform to update people on upcoming strikes and lockouts in different parts of the country. The page began gaining prominence after the 2015 earthquake owing to its uninterrupted circulation flow of information during the crisis.[28] RONB has today become a major source of news.[29] Given its wide reach and popularity among the masses, professional visual journalists like Skanda Gautam and Chitrakar also submit their photos there.

Photo taken in Vietnam, which went viral during the Nepal Earthquake. Photo by Na-Son Nguyen

Like them, many photojournalists harnessed the power of social media during the earthquake to reach wider audiences. Photographer Samantha Reinders, who frequently oscillates between Cape Town and Kathmandu, relied on her Instagram handle to share Nepal’s story with the world. Six months after the April earthquake, Photo.Circle, a local photography platform with an army of artists, photographers, curators and volunteers initiated Photo Kathmandu — Nepal’s first international photography event. Photo.Circle made good use of social media to raise funds and bring together photo journalists to portray Nepal’s resilience in the face of tragedy.[30] The project turned the crumbling historic quarters and alleyways of Kathmandu into a living breathing gallery.

Images of different scale and size were posted in boundary walls and houses like murals. Cracks that had formed in houses during the quake were temporarily hidden behind photos. They adorned the walls of an ancient palace, resting against old stone water spouts. The project had also managed to bring in relief funds to resurrect damaged resting places within the ancient town of Patan, a suburb in Kathmandu.[31]

The advancement of digital media also has the potential to contribute to spreading misinformation.  An example is that of a photograph that circulated all over the internet following the 2015 earthquake in Nepal and abroad.[32] The image is that of a little boy embracing his younger sister, which became a quintessential photograph symbolizing Nepal’s unimaginable sufferings. However, the photo was not taken in Nepal but was shot by photographer Na Son Nguyen back in 2007 in Ha Giang province of Vietnam. Nonetheless, the image made rounds on social media and still appears on image-sharing sites like Pinterest with deceiving captions. Even celebrities like Indian cricketer Suresh Raina and Bollywood filmmaker Farah Khan shared the image online.

Photojournalist Profile: Sumit Dayal

Sumit Dayal was born in Kashmir, India in 1981 and grew up in Kathmandu, Nepal. He completed secondary education in 2000 at the reputed Delhi Public School in the Indian capital city of Delhi. In 2003, he graduated from the University of Delhi with a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce.

He started working as a freelance photojournalist in 2007 covering news in Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal. His clients include TIME, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Bloomberg, Le Monde, Vanity Fair, La Repubblica, GQ, and UNICEF. Dayal is currently covering the COVID-19 pandemic, with published work in Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

Early Life and Work

Starting with a rudimentary course in photography in 2004, Dayal became a photojournalist after an apprenticeship with American photo-activist Thomas Kelly in Nepal. It is due to this mentorship that Dayal attended and graduated from the Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism program at the International Center of Photography in New York in 2006. Dayal then went to Afghanistan in 2007 as a freelance journalist to cover the war and its effect on the local people. Dayal soon gained a reputation for capturing pictures that “reflect a reality that is blurry, rough on the edges and often surreal,” a possibility due to a plastic Holga camera he brought with him.[33]

In 2008, Dayal travelled to Bhutan to witness and capture the first National Assembly elections. Dayal captured images of men and women standing in line to vote, published in outlets such as TIME[34] and HIMAL Southasian.[35]

Returning to both Nepal and India in 2009, Dayal continued his freelance work, producing Wish You Live Long.  He describes his work as consisting of “three broad themes: On going home, anonymous portraits collected from the Line of Control, and the family album.”[36] Challenging the entrenched connection of Kashmir with terrorism and violence, Dayal hoped to better represent the simplicity of the people and “capture the elegance of its culture, history and people”, according to The Asian Age.[37] The first project, On Going Home, captured his return to Nepal and India after 17 years abroad. His work made him one of three winners of the National Geographic All Roads Photography Award in the category of emerging photographers in 2010. The second part of Wish You Live Long, was curated through personal research while travelling along the Line of Control, from Punjab to Ladakh.

Throughout the above, Dayal remained an active freelancer in Asia and produced many images in Tibet,[38] covering young monks in training and students at the Tibetan Transit School. Between the years of 2012-2014 Dayal returned to academia, teaching documentary photography at the Aurobindo Center for Arts and Communication in New Delhi and fortified his own academic background by attending the Reflexions Masterclass Program.

In 2014, Dayal became the curator for the Delhi Photo Festival. Concurrently, Dayal assisted as a contributor to the Photo.Circle.

Nepal Photo Project (NPP) and Earthquake Coverage

When Gorkha earthquake struck Nepal, Dayal deduced that information would be as integral to the affected population as food and water. In the first 24 hours of the destruction, Dayal was unable to access any information. "There were no international journalists there yet, lines were down and all I got were a few random photos which people would upload when they had five minutes connectivity," Dayal said in a Daily O article.[39]

Crematory grounds overwhelmed by casualties of the quake. Image posted under #nepalphotoproject. Photo by Sumit Dayal

To solve this problem, Dayal harnessed social media, primarily Facebook and Instagram, to create the Nepal Photo Project (NPP) as a way to widely disperse reports and help people better understand the situation. With connections already intact through his work with Photo.Circle,[40] he co-founded this project with writer Tara Bedi on April 26th, 2015, posting pictures and information to social media through local submissions across the country.

The project was initially created to assist photographers in Nepal, India, and surrounding countries to come together and “aggregate critical and accurate information about the earthquake and its aftermath,” according to Bedi in an article for Vantage.[41] However, the content quickly evolved to demonstrate the scale of the devastation, documenting relief activities and sharing photo submissions from people in Kathmandu and the surrounding villages. In so doing, the NPP assisted people looking for family members, provided concrete avenues for donations and helped raise money for fundraisers.

To keep the project credible, the NPP team vetted submissions from locals by making sure that photographs communicated important information, such as missing people, coverage of rescue and relief operations, and critical links such as citizen and volunteer opportunities, links to resources, reliable fundraisers and other articles. While Instagram was mainly for photographs, Facebook provided a broader range of written information.

They were also aware of providing an alternative to the narrative of mainstream and legacy media. In April 2015, Dayal wrote on LinkedIn: “I co-founded the Nepal Photo Project with friends and colleagues. NPP, an aggregator platform on Instagram that gave a human face to the devastating earthquake by sharing compelling stories from citizens, journalists, aid workers and photographers present there. Thereby providing an alternative voice to mainstream media.”

Once the devastation of the earthquake settled, NPP did not disband but instead remained an important resource for the people of Nepal to produce content about their lives, traditions and culture. The platform feed is currently covered in mask wearers as the NPP capture the COVID-19 pandemic in Nepal.

Outreach and Reception

NPP has been widely lauded for its immediate response in the wake of a devastating earthquake. Conceived only a few hours after the quake, NPP quickly became a repository of images and stories documenting the tragedy.

A member of the Bhutanese relief team, Men in Orange helping an injured earthquake victim to use crutches. Image posted under #nepalphotoproject. Photo by Sumit Dayal

Many news media coverage of the time overplayed death and destruction.[42] On the flip side, the NPP changed the narrative by humanizing the struggles of those that survived. The Washington Post said that the project helped put a face on catastrophe. Other global news media outlets have applauded the visual campaign for harnessing the power of social media as a tool for awareness and aid in Nepal.[43] A TIME article said that the hashtag quickly became a medium for people to reach out and help those in need.[44]

While the project used Instagram for sharing images, it used its Facebook handle as a nerve centre posting calls for action, volunteers, and donations. Bedi said in an interview that NPP was able to raise US$15,000 and over €43,000 via two fund-raising campaigns.[45] They were also able to help and raise awareness on volunteer missions and aids, particularly on one unregistered aid provider, The Yellow House, a bed-and-breakfast that became a vibrant guerrilla aid operation run by a handful of young people that supplied relief packages at far flung quake-hit areas.[46] The initiative, which in the outset had no more than 10 volunteers, quickly boasted of about 200 volunteers once #nepalphotoproject directed people towards The Yellow House.[47]

Once the aftershocks became less frequent, the NPP started to shift its lens from the initial struggles of devastation to reconstruction efforts. They continued to partner with other volunteer groups to help families rebuild their homes and started to track the reconstruction phase in each passing year. While many international correspondents had already left and stopped covering the devastation by May 2015, just a month after the first quake, #nepalphotoproject has continued to post contents updating viewers on the rebuilding campaign and the people involved in them.

Other Works Since Nepal Earthquake

After covering the 2015 earthquake, Dayal founded a media agency in 2016 called Conspire Digital.

In 2017, Dayal worked on a project titled ‘Kashmir Lightbox’ series, marking a departure from his earlier works. He used an installation in the form of a transparent filmstrip placed on a light table, which was then meant to be viewed through an enlarging loupe.

Dayal has justified using this method to capture Kashmir in a description box of his YouTube video. He writes in the caption:

An image from Dayal’s 2007 Kashmir series ‘No Strings Attached’. Photo by Sumit Dayal.

“The loupe acts as a window into the subtle everyday aspects of the conflict experienced by local Kashmiris and the Indian army soldiers. The experience of using the lightbox is reflective of how people may experience Kashmir in different ways at the same time. For instance if one does not use the loupe, they will end up glancing at the surface of this issue and bypass the details that lie within [the frame]. This act of oblivion is congruent with the outsider’s experience of Kashmir in general.”

Dayal covered Kashmir in 2019 as well, this time working as reporter and cinematographer on a video series called ‘Resist to Exist’ in Kashmir for The Caravan magazine. The series captured the Kashmiri resistance when India scrapped Article 370, a constitutional provision that allowed the state of Kashmir to make its own laws in August of 2019.[48]

The following year, COVID-19 broke out and like many other journalists, Dayal shifted his lens to the new crisis. He has covered the pandemic in both Nepal and India. His #nepalphotoproject started closely following the the health crisis in Nepal. The project, currently, identifies itself as “covering COVID-19 response in Nepal." Dayal has also worked to cover India’s response to COVID-19, which has been published in Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

Awards and Recognitions

Dayal has bagged several recognitions for his photography and photojournalism work since 2006. He has garnered most acclaim for his work in Kashmir.

  • 2006: Recipient of the Alexia Grant, from the Alexia Foundation. The  foundation provides production grants to photographers giving them the financial ability to produce substantial stories that highlight issues of social injustices and cultural differences.
  • 2010: Selected for visual artist Giorgio Fiorio’s popular workshop called Reflexions Masterclass with nine other photographers.
  • 2010: Winner of the National Geographic All Roads Photography Awards for a personal photo story called ‘On going home’, which captures life in Kashmir, his birthplace.
  • 2017: His photo series, ‘Kashmir Lightbox’ was compiled in a photo book called Witness: Kashmir 1986—2016. The book was enlisted in the New York Times magazine’s top ten photo books[49] of the year 2017.

Photojournalist Profile: Omar Havana

Omar Havana, born 1975, is a Spanish freelance photojournalist. He currently lives in Belgium and is represented by Getty Images. His work has been published widely by international media including National Geographic, Paris Match, Al Jazeera, The New York Times, BBC, Financial Times, ABC News Australia, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNN, and The Atlantic, amongst many others. His first published book, Endurance (2016) documents the devastating 2015 Nepal Earthquake in photographs. Pictures from this series have appeared in the front pages of the New York Times.

Early Life and Work

Havana was born in Granada, Spain in 1975. He started working with photography in 2000 as a travel photographer and was inspired by Cuban politics to pursue a career as a photojournalist in 2005. He moved to Cambodia in 2008, where most of his early work is focused. It took him a year to take his first shot in Cambodia because he believes in connecting with the people in his stories. In an interview with Sharing 4 Good he said:

“People in the story have to connect with you and understand that you care and that you are also one of them.”[50]

Havana started working as a full-time photojournalist in 2009 covering stories in Spain, Cambodia, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Belgium, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Egypt, The Netherlands, Nepal, Greece and France. Havana has also worked with  a variety of different international agencies since 2012, which include Wostok Press (France), Cordon Press/Corbis Spain (Spain), SIPA Press (France), and EPA (Thailand).  These agencies would distribute his work to news organizations around the world including Al Jazeera and The New York Times.

Since the beginning of his career, Havana has worked in conjunction with a variety of humanitarian organizations. He collaborated with UNICEF ROSA, ActionAid Greece, Secours Populaire Français, Aide Et Action France, VSO International, Gapminder Foundation, International Medical Corps, Four Paws International, the International Labor Organizations, Heifer International and Greenpeace France.

In 2014, Havana relocated to Nepal for a contract with Getty Images.

Endurance and Earthquake Coverage

Havana moved to Kathmandu with his wife in October 2014, six months before the earthquake hit Nepal. When the earthquake hit, Havana saw it firsthand. He was living in an apartment on the 6th floor of a 13 floor building. He went back into the building to retrieve his camera and started documenting what was happening around him.[51] He worked alongside Nepali colleagues and photojournalists and captured images of a collapsed tower, temples reduced to ruins and people who were trapped and injured.[51] The intensity of the day led to Havana jotting down his thoughts of the experience, noting that many people were hopeful and eager to rebuild. 

While news agencies covered the earthquakes at first, as more timely events unfolded, Nepal began to vanish from the headlines.[52] Added to this, communication systems were down for many, cutting the people of Nepal off from the outside world. Havana was left homeless due to the collapsing of his apartment complex. He obtained food and water with others camped in a schoolyard who were adamant that Havana share the story of Nepal.

The photograph used for the cover of Endurance. Photo by Omar Havana.

The Nepalese people around Havana expressed a desire to share their stories. Their hope and resilience in the face of disaster led to Havana creating the book Endurance, a “humble tribute to and a legacy for those who are working hard to see their nation rise again.”[52] Havana wanted to demonstrate the strength of the Nepali people. He also wanted to set the record straight for the outside world because “​​people in Europe had this image of Nepal that wasn’t true, that it was completely destroyed.”[51] He noted many photographs showed death and destruction, but he wanted to show life and began photographing that.

Endurance, which includes 72 black and white images selected from the 22,000 photos Havana took from April to October 2015, was published in English as a limited edition of 800 copies by FotoEvidence in 2016. Printed as a hardbound edition at Ofset Yapimevi in Istanbul, Turkey, the book measures 22 x 33 cm., on 170 gsm paper[52]. The book includes a foreword by film director Bernado Bertolucci, and AFP foreign correspondent Paavan Mathema, poetry by Amir Thapa and an afterword  by South African photographer Gareth Bright. Havana photographed for Endurance for seven months and the project itself lasted for four years.[53]

Outreach and Reception

Emergency rescue workers and volunteers carry a victim on a stretcher after the earthquake destroys a temple. Photo by Omar Havana.

Havana described Endurance as a book made in Nepal specifically for the Nepali people as a story of their resilience.[54] Many copies were intentionally sent out to libraries and community organizations in Nepal, while excess funds were used to distribute copies to local families.[55] Even though his primary focus was on recovery efforts and internal distribution in the country, as an international photojournalist, Havana’s work became the primary source of photographs of the earthquake in international news.

Bertolucci, who wrote a foreword for the book, also used images from Endurance for a fundraising campaign in Rome to help the people of Nepal. Him, along with other photojournalists including Hugh Pinney and Gareth Bright, describe the book as powerful and “not just as a historical document of the earthquake in Nepal but also as a testament to the courage, hard work and strength of the people of Nepal.”[52]

His work has been “among the most widely disseminated in Western media,” according to Newsweek.[55] His photographs of the Nepali earthquake were distributed internationally through news organizations like TIME Magazine, National Geographic, Al Jazeera, The Atlantic, The New York Times, CNN, South China Morning Post, and more. In an interview with Republica, Havana mentioned that one of his key objectives in terms of outreach was “to tell international media that they are wrong. There is still an interesting story in Nepal.”[54] Even after many international correspondents left Nepal, he continued to photograph stories about the aftermath of the earthquake which continued to be published locally and internationally.

Other Works Since Nepal Earthquake

After covering the 2015 Nepal earthquake and publishing his book, Havana has continued his work as a full-time professional photojournalist around the world.

Havana’s work includes a wide range of photos that are used for several different NGOs as well as journalistic purposes. His portfolio displays photos on assignment for NEWAH Nepal, Lumanti Nepal, Handa Foundation Cambodia, and SeeBeyondBorders. He has worked in collaboration with Handicap International Cambodia, International Organisation for Migration, The Leprosy Mission Nepal, Phare Ponleu Circus Battambang, Cambodia, The International Planned Parenthood Federation, and SIRC (Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre Nepal).

He also contributed to Nepal Earthquake 2015: An Insight into Risks - a Vision for Resilience, a book published by the World Health Organization that traces Nepal's response to the earthquake, looks into the constant climate disaster risks in Nepal, and shares the insights it has gained through this catastrophe.[56] Many of his photographs have been used by humanitarian organizations such as Amnesty International to inform their reports.

Awards and Recognitions

Havana has won multiple awards for his photography and photojournalism since 2015.[57] Most of them have been for his Nepal earthquake photojournalism and Endurance.

  • 2015: Getty Images APAC Best News Portfolio of the Year 2014, second place
  • 2015: Getty Images APAC Best News Photography of the Year 2014, second place
  • 2016: Getty Images APAC Best News Portfolio of the Year 2015, second place
  • 2016: Getty Images APAC Best News Photography of the Year 2015, second and third place
  • 2016: National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) 2015 Contemporary Issues Story, honorable mention for Endurance
  • 2016: International Photographer of the Year Awards (IPOTY) 2015 Documentary Category, honorable mention for "When the Earth Shook Nepal"
  • 2016: International Photographer of the Year Awards (IPOTY) 2015 Documentary Category, honorable mention for "When the Earth Shook Nepal"
  • 2016: International Photographer of the Year Awards (IPOTY) 2015 Documentary Category, honorable mention for Endurance
  • 2016: Moscow International Foto Awards (MIFA) 2015 General News Category, honorable mention for Endurance
  • 2016: International Photography Awards (IPA) 2015 General News Category, honorable mention for Endurance
  • 2016: International Photography Awards (IPA) 2015 General News Category, second place for "When the Earth Shook Nepal”
  • 2016: Siena International Photo Awards 2016, finalist for Endurance
  • 2016: Tokyo International Foto Awards (TIFA) 2015 General News Category, honorable mention for “When the Earth Shook Nepal”
  • 2016: Tokyo International Foto Awards (TIFA) 2015 Books Category, honorable mention for Endurance
  • 2017: Alfred Fried Photography Award (now known as Global Peace Photo Award), finalist[58]
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