Abkhazia does not appear on the map. Ravaged by a bloody, now forgotten, conflict with Georgia in 1993, the tiny, self-proclaimed republic is nestled between the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains, between the Russian sphere of influence and the Georgian block, between war and peace. I went to photograph this country enclosed in parentheses, this “paradise lost.” Since the territory of the republic was recognized by Russia in 2008, the 250,000 inhabitants of the former Soviet Riviera have been caught between hope and dread. Is Abkhazia an emerging country or an unlikely territory haunted by the remnants of the Communist era?
A single Marine might be able to fold a flag for the widow of a fallen brother. But it wouldn’t have the perfect feel the job demands.
The same might be said of the story Final Salute by photographer Todd Heisler and reporter Jim Sheeler of the Rocky Mountain News. Of course, Todd’s photographs stand on their own. As do Jim’s words. Separately, they were recognized by the American Society of Newspaper Editors as the best examples of photojournalism and non-deadline writing in 2005. But together, these two talented journalists created something more complete and more powerful than either could have done alone.