Photography: Maggie Steber’s “The Audacity of Beauty”

I recently saw Maggie Steber’s stunning photographs via Ellen LeBow’s invitation to a benefit dinner for the Matenwa community of Haiti [see Wellfleet, Massachusetts: Benefit Dinner for Matenwa, Haiti] and I wanted to share them with our readers. The Audacity of Beauty, a Web site that showcases 25 years of Steber’s Haiti work, is a beautiful tribute to Haiti, documented through a wide swath of time, showing the ever-present beauty in good and bad moments.

In “Quietly Finding Haiti’s Beauty,” David González explains: “The title itself is a provocative spin on how she now looks at Haiti—where I worked alongside her in the 1980s when I was a correspondent for Newsweek, receiving a crash course on how to understand a very complicated and misunderstood place. ‘The idea came about in the last couple of years,’ said Ms. Steber, [. . .] ‘This idea of the audacity of these people to have anything beautiful in their lives.’” In the article, Steber says, “Some years ago when I first started working in Haiti, I realized I had to go when it was quiet, when there were moments of peace, not danger and violence,” she said. “We don’t take the time to see it because, mainly, people are not interested. But you see glimpses of beautiful things in the countryside and the slums. There are moments of beauty that are exquisite. They are profound. But you have to be in tune with things when you see them. Those are the moments where pride lives, where life is lived.”

Maggie Steber has worked as a documentary photographer in 62 countries. Her longtime work in Haiti received the prestigious Alicia Patterson Foundation Grant and the Ernst Haas Grant. A collection of her moving Haiti photographs was published in Dancing on Fire: Photographs from Haiti (with an introduction by Amy Wilentz) by Aperture in 1992. She was a contract photographer for Newsweek Magazine and worked for the Associated Press in New York as a photo editor.

Her list of honors includes: The Leica Medal of Excellence; First Prize Spot News World Press Photo Foundation; News First Prize Magazine Documentary in Pictures of the Year Overseas Press Club Oliver Rebbot Award Best Photographic Coverage from Abroad; and The Medal of Honor for Distinguished Service to Journalism from University of Missouri, among others.

Her work appears regularly in National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times, Smithsonian, The Guardian of London and many other American and European publications. Her photographs are included in numerous museum and private collections including the Library of Congress. She has served as judge for World Press Photo Foundation and the Alicia Patterson Foundation as well as for other photographic and competitions.

[Shown above, Steber’s “Broken Heart.”]

For González’s full review, see

For full biography, see

For her online collections, see

For more on “Dancing on Fire,” see

For more information, see previous post Reporters without Borders

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