Thursday, March 8, 2012

Paula Lerner 1960-2012

Being that today is International Women's Day it seems only fitting to mark the loss of Boston-based photojournalist Paula Lerner,  a tireless advocate for women everywhere and especially for the women of Afghanistan, tireless advocate for working photographers, founding member and former president of the Editorial Photographers group.

Though I didn't know her well, I had the opportunity to spend a few days meeting, talking & working with Paula many years ago. She was a close friend of my original mentor, Steven Minkowski. At the time of his untimely death, it was I who was handed the task of calling Paula in Boston to pass on the news. We've sporadically kept in touch over the years and I have followed her career ever since our first encounter. I remember seeing her images of Rwandan refugee camps on the cover of PDN a few years back and calling her to congratulate her. I watched with glee when she was awarded an Emmy for her work on the film Behind the Veil: An Intimate Journey Into the Lives of Kandahar's Women. From the moment I first met Paula, I knew I had encountered not only a new colleague & friend in an ego-driven industry, but a powerhouse of a woman passionate about her craft, an advocate for the things I hold near & dear about this industry and about life in general. During the couple of days we worked together, we laughed, we sweat and I came away from the experience so much richer for having had the opportunity to meet Paula, her trusty Leica always at the ready.

She was diagnosed with cancer in 2004. After initial treatment & surgery, Paula was able to return to a somewhat normal life until it was discovered that the disease had metastasised to her bones and eventually her organs. Paula left us on Tuesday. The world and the photographic industry are a better place for having had her during her all too brief life. Our thoughts & prayers go out to her family and friends.

Aloha Paula...

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