Stranded at Sea
Before it was allowed to dock in Fort Lauderdale this past week, Holland America’s TMS Zaandam was one of the “virus death ships” nobody wanted. Carrying nearly 200 passengers confined to their cabins and four dead bodies, the cruise ship was in limbo for days after South American ports denied it entry. AFP photographer Luis Acosta captured the sad saga as the ship passed through the Panama Canal on March 29. Most news outlets ran wide shots of the indistinguishable ship at sea, but Acosta’s image of a solitary passenger framed in the glowing window of his cabin zoomed in on the story. His stark photograph is a frame within a frame, creating multi-dimensional layers made more compelling by the emptiness of the other lit windows. The photo’s solitary silhouette spoke volumes about what was at stake – not a big ship, but the frightened, isolated lives on board.
Patrick Farrell, the curator of The Sunday Still, is the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winner for Breaking News Photography for The Miami Herald, where he worked from 1987 to 2019. He is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Media Management at the University of Miami School of Communication.
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