A Room Without A View: NPR Photographer Frames Japan's Wreckage

March 24, 2011

Claire O'Neill

David Gilkey

"How do you make a picture of something that's basically nonexistent?" NPR photographer David Gilkey mused aloud on the phone yesterday. In Japan it was about 11:30 pm, and he had just spent the day trying to capture the devastation in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture — or what remains of it. "It's really hard to put any of this into a perspective that someone would understand at home. This town today was literally just ... gone."

"I tried to frame it in a way so that people would see it like looking out their window at home," Gilkey said, offering his own solution.

What if you looked out a window at where your neighbor's house stood yesterday — and today saw nothing but scraps? It may be difficult to photograph, but is even more difficult to imagine. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.