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The spectacular landscapes left by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami have been used as source material by photographers to an extraordinary degree. Yes, using the words “spectacular” and “landscape” here may seem indecent, but this is one of many difficult issues that arise when photography and human suffering meet. Another problem is that “good” work, however you want to define it, may have resulted from questionable motives, and vice versa.

One thing’s for sure, in contrast to the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, where only a handful of photographers created work that was intended for a gallery environment, the devastation from this more recent and more deadly event has been documented and worked on by many more people in a greater variety of ways.

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