Peaceful Palestinian resistance efforts against the Israeli occupation have existed since the inception of Israel in 1948. In the midst of peace talks, the occupation and apartheid like policies are increasingly embedded into Israeli government policy. While world leaders urge for more cooperation and compromise between respective governments, ordinary Palestinians bear the brunt of 64 years of dispossession, segregation and persecution. The mainstream media continues to overlook the daily peaceful resistance efforts of Palestinian citizens as land grabs, house demolitions, arbitrary arrests, night raids and settler violence increase. These images are from various demonstrations and direct actions within the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well some that depict the of impact of Israeli civil law imposed onto Palestinian citizens. These efforts are continually met with severe repression despite their peaceful aims.
Journalists often ask, “where is the Palestinian Ghandi?” There are many. They are hidden behind our silence.
Before I ever understood “SLR,” as an acronym or even had a decent point and shoot, I was framing the world as I saw it into photos. After surrendering my summer savings during junior year of college on a Canon and taking a few photo classes, I began to work as a photographer for my university’s newspaper. Long story short, I graduated and kept taking photos amidst an insatiable desire to participate and work in populations of poverty and victims of structural injustice. I have documented the relocation and integration of Nepali refugees in Eastern Washington State over a 3-year period. I’ve also photographed for the NGO Courts for Kids, in Western Samoa in the South Pacific.
This past year, I moved to Palestine for a season and realized how much I thrived in conflict. I had to learn how to identify clues of potential escalation in volatile situations…and then stay put and keep clicking. Not only did I photograph protests and direct actions, I became involved in the planning and execution of the events I was covering after realizing that neutrality in this case would be to side with the oppressor. Through all these projects, I have come to understand how integral relationships are with the subjects. Whether the project allows for long-term friendship or on the spot rapport building, my priority is on connecting with those I photograph to invite their vulnerability and reveal as much of their humanity to potential viewers.
The images I’ve captured are loaded with political implications. I am interested in what is underneath. A great documentary photo should prod the observer to pursue education on the subject. It implies participation and engagement. I want my photos not only to move people to emotion and empathy, but to action. To capture despair, beauty, weakness and strength, mangled together in honesty, is a call for hope. It’s an invitation to build conviction and then exercise it.
In addition to being a young humanitarian photographer, I am also a credentialed social studies teacher. I do not plan on teaching any time soon, but the entirety of my portfolio will one day be used to impact youth with the kind of weight that only school provides. I plan to indoctrinate teenagers into believing that we all have a tremendous responsibility to seek out the injustices around us, and work toward their redemption.
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