A gallery containing work from Iraq and Afghanistan is currently on exhibit at the Palais de Nations in Geneva as part of the “Mine Action: Advancing Protection, Peace and Development”. It is hosted by the United Nations Mine Actions Service and Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Exhibit at Photoville in New York in partnership with UNMAS.
Following wars and the occupation of many areas of the country by ISIL, Iraq is littered with explosive devices, including thousands of IEDs. Major population centers and small villages are unsafe for the people returning home. The United Nations is helping the Government of Iraq to clear these hazards village by village, street by street. The people of Iraq, like people everywhere, deserve and need safe homes.
Photography and Trauma: Psychological Stress and The Occupational Hazards of Exposure to Traumatic Imagery
Sunday, September 16 | 1:30PM – 2:30PM. Location: 60 Water Street, DUMBO – across from Photoville
Thursday, September 20 | 6:30PM. Location: Brooklyn Bridge Park, DUMBO - in the beer garden at Photoville
Details to follow
A selection of work made for UNMAS is on display at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City for the month of April. It will run until the beginning of May and then be sent for display at the Hague in Geneva. It can be viewed in the visitor's lobby of the main building on the exterior wall of the General Assembly.
Work with Foreign Policy selected for this year's American Photography Awards 34. Images show the horrific toll the battle against has had on Iraq's youngest. The original piece written for Foreign Policy can be viewed in full here. Click here to view the rest of those selected for this year's award.
I was included in Ayesha Shakya's recent project on how Instagram is changing the way we're consuming news. She combined a great set of info into an easy guide for publishers and producers struggling to understand Instagram's Stories feature. Check it out here - including a short Instagram Stories clip from Newroz in northern Iraq.
"When Ako Abdulrahman, then 30, bought a used BMW E32 750i Security Vehicle, his intention was the opposite of the one BMW had envisioned. Nothing Ako does is safe or discreet. If he offers you one of his French cigarettes, he lunges forward with it. He drinks a cappuccino in three gulps. He listens to Kurdish rap music and likes it loud. His presence is one of urgent motion. Even his beard is shaped into an angular prominence that suggests direction."
Grab a copy of Vanity Fair's December issue and read Jeff Stern's incredible story of Ako, his BMW, and their Death Race-styled mission during the ISIS attack on Kirkuk in 2016.
Thanks to Rawand and Ari for all the help getting this one done.
Read the online version here.
I'm hitting the road with Instagram and the Facebook Journalism Project for a series of talks about the changing landscape of photojournalism in the digital era.
Tuesday October 03 at 6:00pm at Facebook HQ 770 Broadway, New York, NY
Thursday October 05 at 12:00pm at National Geographic 1600 M Street, Washington, DC
Monday October 09 at 3:30pm at Eddie Adams Workshop 52 Sullivan Ave., Liberty, NY
Wednesday October 11 at 3:30pm at JSK Journalism Fellowships Stanford University 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA
Thursday October 12 at 1:30pm at Instagram HQ, Hacker Way, Menlo Park, CA
(updated: overview of discussion at National Geographic here)
A big thank you to Instagram for displaying the below image at Photoville in New York last week.
At the end of June the battle for Mosul entered it's ninth and final month and Iraqi forces had ISIS surrounded and cornered in the center of Mosul's Old City. Tens of thousands of civilians were estimated to remain trapped alongside the extremist militants with dwindling food supplies and little to no water or medical care after the months of siege. During the days surrounding this photo, Iraqi troops were advancing on foot into the tightly knit alleyways of the ancient Old City. The fighting was intense and brutal in the peak heat of Iraqi summer. As troops moved forward house by house, they reached trapped civilians allowing them a chance to finally flee the fighting and siege. Families poured out of the Old City and were sent to refugee camps or sought shelter elsewhere. Many of those fleeing were malnourished or injured and youngest and oldest appeared in the worst condition. People carried what they could, and often each other, through the ruins and dust of what remained of the city streets. Officials estimate that over one million people were displaced from their homes over the course of the fighting for the city. In this image a man and woman were fleeing fighting in Mosul's Old City on June 25, 2017. (Photo credit UNHCR/Cengiz Yar)
"The Iraqi bomb disposal teams are at the forefront of a deadly arms race. While Mosul was recently liberated from Daesh, the underfunded and undertrained Iraqi Security forces are still moving quickly to dispose of all the boobytraps left in its wake. This is bomb disposal at its most improvised.
WIRED photographer Cengiz Yar followed the patrol team of the Iraqi Army's 16th Division Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit in June as part of our October issue feature story."
Read the full story behind this image here.
Escaping war and the Islamic State, families took with them what little they could carry — remembrances of loved ones and the past.
Often, there is little function or utility to these items — a broken watch, a child’s garment, a handful of worn photographs. They are tokens of the life — and the people — they left behind.
Read more online here or pick-up this month's edition of Foreign Policy Magazine.
I've been using Instagram Stories heavily for the past year and wrote some tips from what I learned for Fast Company. Using Instagram for journalism and storytelling is an easy way to connect with a new audience and directly inform viewers from the field. Stories allows that option in an almost-live setting. These tips might help you break through the noise. Read the full articles and see some videos here here.
Stories or still photos? That’s become an increasingly common question since Instagram introduced its Snapchat-imitating video feature. The ephemeral mobile viewing experience has grown rapidly since then–surpassing 250 million daily active users earlier this summer.
One result is that the number of badly shot mobile videos is proliferating, making it even harder to stand out and get noticed in feeds. Here are some of the things I have learned about effectively using Instagram Stories since it launched in 2016. These are tips and tricks I used while covering the nine-month battle for Mosul in Iraq for the Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, and Foreign Policy, among others. Some of this material is from presentations I’ve given at Instagram and Facebook as well.
There are countless ways to use the Instagram app, and my hope is that these 12 ideas will either help get you started or spark some creativity if you’re already using it.
Tip 1: Use your phone’s native camera for pictures or video. Don’t use the app’s camera. Video and pictures taken in Instagram’s app are lower resolution than what your camera shoots. You’ll also have more limited options for editing your video or pictures if you shoot directly from the app. The downside to this is that your phone will run out of storage more quickly and need to be backed up more often.
Tip 2: Download and save everything captured. Set Instagram to automatically download all your images and videos (under Stories settings “Save Shared Photos”). You’ll never know what you want to remember or how you might need to reuse what you’ve shot. This is especially important when dealing with newsworthy video or pictures–what you shoot during the day may be important evidence, and you might need it later. Save everything.
Tip 3: Shoot vertically. People hold their phones vertically when scrolling through their feed, and because of that are less likely to rotate it when they land on your story. If your video is horizontal, it could push viewers to skip over it and ignore your story altogether. Learn to shoot vertically, and adapt your material to viewer preferences.
Tip 4: Edit and upload at the end of the day. This is especially important if you’re working with a weak internet connection–maybe somewhere rural or remote. If uploads fail, they are likely to sequence out of order when you finally get to upload everything, and that can ruin a narrative story arc. To get around this problem, sequence everything at once when you get somewhere with a strong internet connection. Uploading all at once also allows your viewers to see everything together instead of flipping back and forth between chapters, or only seeing one slide without much context.
Tip 5: Keep your videos between five and 10 seconds in length. Less than five seconds of video is barely enough to show a situation, and anything longer than 10 seconds will most likely get swiped over. Use the iPhone’s edit feature to trim the video to find the best part of your clips. Shooting 15- to 20-second clips at a time will help you create enough video to sort through and shorten later.
Tip 6: Make your text short and to the point. Condense the text that accompanies your story as much as possible. Assume people using Instagram have about the same reading attention span that you do (no offense). Using that as a guide, you probably only have a few seconds to command someone’s attention, even if the content is riveting. Use short sentences. Avoid long paragraphs. Instead, let your text extend over a few slides in sequence.
Tip 7: Use the phone’s edit feature to crop your pictures. You phone’s screen and Stories dimensions are most likely 9-by-16, but those aren’t the photo dimensions if you shoot with your phone’s native camera. Crop your images before uploading them so you can select what part of the frame you want centered.
Tip 8: Upload old material by exporting from editing software with new metadata. Saving new files out of editors like Photoshop, iMovie, or Premier will trick Instagram into thinking they were taken the same day. This way you can show old photos or videos, or even build a story over a longer period of time to show a narrative evolution.
Tip 9: Set the scene. Think of how movie sequencing works: It starts with a wide opening shot that helps set the scene, and then moves into medium and detail shots to fill out the story as it get more intimate. One of the most common mistakes in shooting video and photo stories is to use a long sequence of medium shots without depth or detail–don’t make that mistake with your Instagram Stories.
Tip 10: Use editing software to add text over your images. Instagram has a limited number of font styles available, so if you want to get more creative, it’s best to edit your photos on another piece of software. This will take a bit more time and patience than just a quick upload at the end of the day, but it will pay off visually. If you’re good at graphic design, the 9-by-16 layout can be really fun to mess around with.
Tip 11: Place your font wisely. Don’t place anything too high or too low in the frame, because it will get cut off by the logos and decals in Instagram’s playback. Use blank space in the video or images–think sky or ground–to your advantage. Alternatively, shoot blank walls or other textures to create transition slides that help tell your story.
Tip 12: Use your friends, family, and colleagues as presenters (and tag them). It’s rarely just you with an iPhone these days; there are almost always other people engaging in the story. Ask the people around you to talk for a few seconds and describe your shared experience. This will make the story feel more relatable and more of an interaction than a one-way feed. Tagging shows you appreciate your community and friendship, but don’t overdo it all the time.
"Fewer than 500,000 Christians are now left in Iraq, down from 1.5 million in 2003," writes Anna Lekas Miller. "Fearing religious extinction, many are advocating that the displaced return home now that ISIS has been driven out." Pickup a copy of Sojourners to read Anna's story about Iraq's dwindling Christian community and their uncertain future. A selection of my photos from the past two years runs alongside the essay.