A small sign of hope and rebellion amid the destruction of Sinjar, 2017
Most of what I knew about Iraq seemed intimidating and violent, but I thought I might be wrong about that.
It was in Cairo during the Arab Spring where I first fell in love with the people and the complexity of the Middle East region. In June 2017 I made my way to Iraq, and the contents of this web page are dedicated to the photographs and stories about my experience, and of the wonderful people I met.
How and why did all this happen? (scroll down for project background)
Visiting with kids at a camp in Mosul and walking down a Sinjar street
Stories & Updates
Below are some recent updates and links to related stories, photographs and video. Please share and check back periodically. You can view an initial sample gallery of photographs here >
Published on August 3, 2017
I met and photographed these boys (pictured above) and their family a few weeks ago in Iraq. Left to right, this is Abdulrahman, Younis and Mohammed. The family escaped ISIS, but lost their home and everything else in the process. They're now living in a temporary shelter outside of Mosul, an area now receiving some help with water and sanitation from NGO, Medair. After sharing this photograph, word quickly spread that there were distant young fans of Sporting Clube de Portugal. The football club got in touch with me and they have just published a story about them in their print newspaper. Read it here >
Video Pen Pals from Iraq and United States
In progress / Summer 2017
I have met so many beautiful and confounding people, with personal stories that I can barely begin to comprehend. One of the projects we're working on is a video "Pen Pals" series. Just prior to going to Iraq, I conducted short video interviews with regular people from Texas, Washington and Tennessee. I asked them to introduce themselves and ask a question of their counterparts in Iraq. I took these videos with me and showed them to some of the displaced people living in a camp outside of Kirkuk. The resulting video will show this interaction and the unexpected responses and connections they inspired.
I've spent the better part of my life getting lost or wandering around, and I've become somewhat at home in doing so. Oddly enough, it was a road trip during the Egyptian Revolution and hike along the Pacific Crest Trail that led me here. I wanted to visit and better understand a place I've known only through the lens of the news media, from an insulated bubble on the other side of the planet.
What's been lost in the wake of ISIS and who are the displaced people? What does it mean to suffer unimagiable horror and still find hope? What kind of help is still needed? And why is everyone so generous and friendly, and yet so quick to fight each other? These were just some of the questions I had. And since it's hard to really understand anything from a safe distance, I decided to go there instead.
My initial trip over three weeks in July was spent visiting homes and large encampments in the Kurdish and northern Arab regions of Iraq, including Kirkuk, Sinjar and Mosul. I wanted meet strange new people, make some photographs, and learn new things for the purpose of creating meaningful stories that people may enjoy and benefit from.
I want to extend a very special thank you to Sue O'Connor and the Medair team for all of their support throughout this project. Medair is a humantiarian aid NGO helping vulnerable people in the Middle East and throughout the world. Please check them out and help where you can.
Thank you to some of my friends and collaborators: Ryan Fritzsche for video production; Rachel Dowd for press and storytelling support; Justin Sanders for copy editing; and Michelle Zassenhaus for helping me with photo editing. Please note that unless otherwise stated, all of the thoughts and opinions found on this site are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of other individuals or organizations.