Life After Shock
When the earth jolts, people forget who they are.
Everything is destroyed. Deep fear spreads into the life
of the community, and disappointment becomes a part
of everyday life. They are faced with the question of
how to rebuild their life from the ground up.
While people who have suffered from natural disasters
lose property and loved ones, they will gradually return
to some measure of normalcy. But they will never forget
the bitter moment when tragedy struck.
Iran is one of the most quake-prone countries in the
world. Eighty percent to 90% of the country’s territories
sit astride major faults in the earth’s crust. The country
is prone to frequent quakes, many of which are
devastating. Earthquakes threaten Iranian lives
everyday. The low rumbles take a toll on many parts of
the country, mainly due to the age and structural
integrity of the buildings.
“Life After Shock” is a project that focuses on the lives
of people who experienced the earthquakes in
Varzaqan on August 11, 2012, and Shonbeh, on April 9,
2013. The earthquakes, which measured 6.4 and 6.1 on
the Richter scale respectively, killed many people,
destroying houses in Kaki, Shonbeh, and Tasouj, all in
The goal of this project is to document the coping
mechanisms people used during the aftermath. I also
hope to discourage the lack of care people take when
preparing for natural disasters. Earthquakes threaten
the lives of Iranians every day, yet they still do not seem
to take the threat of disaster seriously. Why ignore this?
While documenting “Life After Shock” I lived with local
families for two weeks after the earthquakes. I wanted
to understand how life was for people. I wanted to be a
part of the community. The experience was difficult, and
I was alone, but because of the aftershocks I shared
many of the same experiences with people in the
community. I felt fear, I felt joy, and I felt incredible
sadness. We were all soon united.
Shonbeh was home to 5,000 people. The earthquake
killed 45, injured 850, and destroyed 90% of the houses
there. The incident devastated a small town that just
two years prior to the quake was a thriving village.
Last year I traveled back to Shonbeh to see how the city
and its people had changed. I wanted to know whether
people really could forget that earthquake. After going
back, I think it will be very hard for things to ever be the
same. The city will survive, and may continue to grow,
but the fear in the community lives on.