Metrography was founded in 2009 by Iraqi photographer Kamaran Najm and American photojournalist Sebastian Meyer with the objective of establishing a thriving, independent photography and photojournalism industry in Iraq. It was Iraq’s first functioning photography agency and remains wholly independent to this day.
Since the beginning of the crisis and the rise of ISIS last year, the photographers of Metrography have reported on every aspect of the conflict: from embedding with the Peshmerga forces, to documenting the daily struggles of those who were escaping war and its brutality.
After a few months of reporting straightforward news, the photographers began focusing on the other face of the conflict, showing the unprecedented human crisis that hit the Kurdistan Region of Iraq as the conflict intensified.
[See: a touching photo-report of a group of Kurdish refugees that lives out of two over-crowded hotels.]
In the past months, over 1,200,000 displaced Iraqis have fled war and sought refuge in Kurdistan, causing a humanitarian catastrophe of biblical proportions. Unfortunately, being far away from the spotlight of the news and the front lines, this story has gone largely untold.
Thanks to their deeper understanding of the region and their proximity to the issue—which comes from photographers’ personal experience of being refugees themselves during the Anfal Campaign of Saddam against the Kurds in the ’90s—Metrography set out with the intention of telling the stories of these displaced people and launched its first collective project, “A Map of Displacement.”
[See: the story of two orphaned Iraqi boys, whose personal displacement mirrors the struggles of the entire country.]
Metrography’s photographers, who number nine in total, are now reporting on the lives and struggles of internally displaced (IDP) families with the most diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. Rather than showing the war through its most violent face, Metrography’s goal is to focus on daily life and celebrate diversity, intimacy, and humanity. These are the values that are at stake, and have always been at the very center of the photographers’ work in the region.
[See: the in-depth portrait of a growing IDP camp in Kirkuk, Iraq.]
Through the spread of powerful visual journalism, Metrography hopes to help break down ethnic, cultural, and religious barriers, foster peer-to-peer collaboration and learning, and celebrate Iraq’s diversity and history by telling its story through high-quality photography, videography and multimedia productions.
[See: the intimate story of harmonious co-habitation between a Christian and Sunni family.
Right now, Metrography is exploring new ways of sustaining itself. In trying to move away from the spotlight of hard news, the agency is exploring new territory by conducting in-depth reporting on complex, humanitarian topics. The many projects highlighted above, which make up the collective “Map of Displacement,” are the first steps in this direction.