A New Kind of Photojournalism
Map of Displacement is the story of the millions of Iraqis forced from their homes in the latest wave of violence to sweep through their country. It is the story of the enormous human toll civilians are paying in Iraq while war continues to ravage their country. Through intimate narratives of these people who have been violently forced to flee, Map of Displacement illustrates the magnitude and poignancy of this underreported crisis.
Furthermore, the twelve stories part of the project are the result of collaborations between the Kurdish Iraqi photographers of Metrography, Metrography’s editorial team and writers from all over the world: it is an attempt to empower the local photojournalists in telling the stories of their own country.
It’s been some years now that the media industry has been trying to find new ways to sustain the production of quality journalism from remote areas despite the economic crisis that is undergoing.
The old model, which consisted in flying photographers around the world to report on conflicts and crisis, doesn’t appear to be sustainable anymore, and due to the shrinking budgets of media outlets the reporting is at risk of being quick and shallow, lacking the necessary in-depth knowledge and research.
International photojournalists are often constrained by the short time they can spend on a story, a condition that limits their access to the various aspects of multi-layered issues. The result is an oversimplification of complex dynamics at play in an ongoing crisis, such as the one unfolding right now in Iraq.
However, greater access to technology, affordable high quality equipment and widespread internet access have made it possible for local photographers to play a new crucial role in the production of news and stories from crisis contexts. Benefiting from unprecedented access and with almost no needs of intermediaries such as fixers or translators, the local photographers can spend as long as possible reporting on issues that are difficult to reach for traveling journalists.
Metrography, the first and only independent Iraqi photo agency, was founded in 2009 by American photojournalist Sebastian Meyer and Iraqi photographer Kamaran Najm with this concept in mind. Najm and Meyer shared the idea that great photojournalism comes from concerned and dedicated photographers, irrespective of their nationality.
Based in Sualymaniyah, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, throughout the years Metrography provided local photogrpahers with the kind of training that was missing in the region and made it possible for many of them to reach a international standards of professionalism and publish their work widely.
Since the outburst of the latest Iraqi crisis in 2014, the photographers of the agency have reported on the most diverse aspects of the conflict, providing an unprecedented documentation of the current events.
But what makes their work most valuable is the fact that they stayed and kept reporting after the media attention moved onto other subjects. While most of the international photojournalists were pulling out Metrography committed to telling the hidden face of the war: the subsequent humanitarian catastrophe of the three million displaced Iraqis.
Over the last year, the photographers of the agency followed the stories of some of the over 1,500,000 internally displaced people that are now living in camps, mosques, churches and abandoned buildings across the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Pairing up with international writers and under the guidance of Metrography editors Stefano Carini and Dario Bosio, the photographers of Metrography created the most comprehensive and in-depth account on the IDP crisis, an unprecedented documentation that aims to expose this important yet under reported issue.
“Map of Displacement” (www.mapofdisplacement.com), is now ready to be launched as an interactive website featuring photo, text and video elements and will be presented officially on October, 13th at Parsons School of Design in New York.