|Image by Iraqi photojournalist Ahmad Al - Rubaye|
As a long time student of World History and foreign affairs and as a budding photojournalist myself, I have always made it a practice to look at photo credits. It is now hard not to notice the number of Persian or Arab names that can be found next to almost all photo credits coming out of the aforementioned conflict zones. The brave inhabitants of these countries are desperate to have their stories broadcast worldwide thus they are willing to put their lives literally and figuratively on the front lines in order to document the reality of the horrors unfolding before them. Often the monetary compensation for their efforts is akin to exploitation, but they remain undeterred as money is not their prime motivator, truth is. Thus they head out each and every day in search of chronicling only truth The very reality which has led to the complete obliteration of entire cities, the residents are now literally held hostage within the ruins of the crumbling buildings which surround them at every turn. Often without running water, food, proper medical care, or even a safe place to lay their head when night falls, the lack of electricity shrouds the multitudes of humanity in a cloak of unholy darkness each and every night. It is at such times that these poor souls must feel so very alone and abandoned by all, perhaps even by almighty God!
Many of the educated populace who live in the hell holes of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria have become journalists by proxy; as a result of their overwhelming need to have the world understand their daily struggle. They have come to document their surroundings with an insight often not possibly understandable to those from foreign lands where the stench of death is something you never really experience and thus never get used to.. ...Death is no stranger to these conscripted storytellers of this new journalistic era. They have been drafted into their roles and as such,
they bring with them a perspective that we westerners will never understand and God help us if we ever do get to a point in our own society where we are forced to learn such terrible lessons.
Who knows what my future holds? I still might just throw my hat into the ring? I really don’t have that much to lose when it really comes down to it. It is a very worthy cause to be sure and it could get me back with Getty again or an equivalent agency? Somehow this does not seem like a worthy enough cause to join the ranks of these courageous folk. I would frankly feel like I was exploiting their hardship for my own gain even if I truly believe in the importance of revealing their terrible plight. I am not sure what I should do? Though I do feel the experience could teach me something I desperately need to learn, or perhaps the bravery of these embattled souls will help to rid me of some of the terrible cynicism that has started to erode what little optimism I have left for the future of this planet. Though I am afraid that might be too much to hope for.
by Drew Cunningham - 09/06/2016