Do you know why I love photography? Let me tell you.
While I was organizing my hard drive tonight I came across some images from a couple years ago. I saw one unnamed folder and opened it to take a quick peek inside assuming that whatever was in there wouldn’t be that interesting. I picked a random image to inspect when it hit me. It flew right off the screen and up against my face: Football in the Baddawi refugee camp.
This is why I take photographs. They have an ability to reach out to a viewer like no other medium. Film? Film you have to be prepared for. However it’s presented, you can’t open a film and be immediately struck by it like a photograph. Not to knock film, I love it. And I think it has the ability to reach out to tell a much fuller story than one image, one frame can. Text? As a photographer intent on telling a story I will never present my images without text. It’s needed to give context to an image, because without context what have you got? How would you know that the footballers (and yes, apologies to my friends from the US but I have moved on to the international word for “soccer”) are third generation Palestinian refugees born in exile? Or that these teams were from the neighboring refugee camp that was just completely destroyed in a battle that had nothing to do with them? Back to text — while on its own text can sometimes be nice especially when reading fiction, it can never have the same impact as an image.
An image’s power lies in its accessibility. Just sit back and take it in from afar or get up close and inspect its every detail, it’s up to you. However you want to view an image it’s there for you. Now it’s on my website, another image is in a a magazine, on a wall, or on your phone even. The point is that it’s there, begging to tell you a quick (or long if you so choose) story.
The only problem is how do we get better images into more accessible places?
These images are all from one day when I went to the Baddawi refugee camp in the north of Lebanon in September 2007. The people in the photographs are almost all from the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp who were forced to seek refuge in the nearby Baddawi refugee camp while their homes were destroyed during a war between the Lebanese army and an extremist group called Fatah al-Islam. For those old enough to have lived through 1948, when they were initially made refugees, as well as subsequent wars over the decades, this was not the first time to lose their homes. I’ve met Palestinian refugees in Lebanon who have had to flee their “home” up to five or six times. It’s shocking but true. Palestinian refugees are the largest refugee population in the world today and it’s been more than 60 years that they’ve been denied their most fundamental right.
It’s hard to imagine how spirits could still be high in such a situation. The below might help explain why that is.
See also: Lebanon: Nahr al-Bared refugee camp