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Marco Kesseler December 19, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Albania.
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On the walls of Krujë, Albania 2012

Marco Kesseler (b. 1989, England) is a young documentary photographer with a focus on long term, in depth studies relating to social and political issues most recently in The Balkans and the Middle East. Marco graduated in 2012 with a First Class Honours Degree in (BA) Press & Editorial Photography from Falmouth University . Since completing his degree Marco has been the 2013 recipient of The IdeasTap Photographic Award for work documenting life under the dictatorship in Belarus. In 2012 he exhibited work at The National Portrait Gallery, London, and the New York Photo Festival, which followed his project about the ongoing blood feuds of Albania.

About the Photograph:

“I had been living in Albania for a couple of months working on a story about the traditional laws of blood feuds, which allows the revenge of blood in a like for like manner. Part of the tradition states that people cannot be killed on their own land, I had been living in hiding with a number of families in the mountains and during my stay I watched each day repeat itself – the men could not leave their compound or work so would spend hours at a time sitting and reflecting on their lives. A couple of days before leaving the country I traveled up to the fort town of Krujë, which has been a site of resistance throughout history. This man who stood on part of the walls whilst airing the carpets of a local church. He seemed pensive, looking out across the seemingly peaceful valley stretching below us. I stayed for a few minutes watching, then took a couple of frames. The whole time the man looked out and didn’t say a word.”

Editor’s Note: It’s hard to believe that we are nearing the sixth year anniversary of Verve Photo. Since 2008 I have showcased the work of over 800 photographers. It’s important to emphasize that the images posted here are not isolated photographs. If you click on any of the photographers’ links, I guarantee that you will be inspired by the vision and the variety in each one’s considerable body of work. Marco Kesseler, a young British photographer is proof of that. What a joy to explore the images on his site. In this age of smart phones and non-stop social media activity it’s been my intention to showcase photography that causes the viewer to slow down and reflect for more than a few seconds. Happy Holidays to all. We will resume posting the first week of January 2014.

Julia Cybularz December 16, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Christmas, Philadelphia, 2012

Julia Cybularz (b. 1978, United States) earned her MFA from The School of Visual Arts and holds a B.S. in Photography from Drexel University. Her photography and video work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. In 2007, Julia was the recipient of an Aaron Siskind Memorial grant as well as The School of Visual Arts’ alumni grant. Julia studied under notable photographers Mary Ellen Mark, Andrew Moore and Tina Barney. Her work has been featured in American Photo, on the HBO series “How to Make it in America”, PDN and on Lens Culture. Most recently, she has been selected as a finalist for the Hasselblad Masters, Fotovisura grant, Critical Mass competition and Magenta Flash Forward. She was also presented with the Griffin Award for her series “Breaking the Girl”.

About the Photography:

“This photograph is part of an on-going series titled “The Mathematician” which focuses on my cousin Slawek, a Polish émigré, who is developmentally delayed and has lived with schizophrenia for over twenty years. I made this image of Slawek playing monopoly with his niece during the Christmas holidays. Games, especially children’s games, that involve some form of math, are one of Slawek’s favorite activities and obsessions. The use of photography in this series explores how relationships can be challenged and strengthened through everyday dealings with this sickness. Instead of being singularly explanative, the photographs provide glimpses and fragments, which add up to a collective narrative. One of the focal points of the project is to provide a portrait of Slawek and his relationship to his closely knit family. Children play an important role in Slawek’s life. Children are his playmates and closest confidants. They go on incredible journeys together, sometimes real and other times imagined.”

Patrick Brown December 12, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Bangladesh.
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Bhola, Bangladesh 2012

Patrick Brown (b.1966, England) spent a nomadic childhood living in the Middle East, Canada and Africa before his family finally settled in Perth, Western Australia. Patrick relocated to Asia in 1999 and has since made Thailand his base. He is the recipient of the 3P Photographer Award, World Press Award, Days Japan Award, Picture Of The Year Award, New York Photographic Book Award and NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism Award. His work has been exhibited at the International Center of Photography in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Tokyo, and Visa pour l’Image in France. His recently published book Trading to Extinction is about the devastating impact of wildlife trafficking in Asia. Patrick is represented by Panos Pictures.

About the Photograph:

“Freak weather patterns are only part of the reason for floods becoming an ever-greater menace. Deforestation, dam building upstream, the building of cities on floodplains and the poor maintenance of flood levies have all contributed to the havoc wreaked by rising waters. I planned a week documenting the island of Bhola, Bangladesh’s largest offshore island territory on a personal project, to see how locals were dealing with the ever-present threat of rising waters. However I was only able to get one day shooting in before falling seriously ill, losing more than 4 kg in 2 days.”

“Putting all that aside this is nothing compared with what happened in 1995, when half of Bhola Island, became permanently flooded, leaving 500,000 people, mainly farmers, to become the world’s first climate refugees. Scientists predict Bangladesh will lose 17 percent of its land by 2050 due to flooding caused by climate change. The loss of land could lead to as many as 20 million climate refugees from Bangladesh. This isn’t just a developing world problem. Louisiana loses about 65 square kilometers (25 square miles) to the sea every year. Most land is eroding near the Mississippi Delta.”

Michele Palazzi December 9, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Mongolia.
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Gobi Desert, Mongolia 2012

Michele Palazzi (b.1984, Italy) earned his masters degree in photography at the Scuola Romana di Fotografia. In 2009 he received the Enzo Baldoni Prize for his project 3:32am on the earthquake in Abruzzo. Between 2010 and 2011 he worked on the project Migrant Workers Journey which was a recipient of the Project Launch Award 2011 at Center Santa Fe and exhibited in the New Mexico Museum of Art. It was screened at the Visa Pour l’Image 2012. In 2013 he won the Environmental Photographer of the Year Award from CIWEM in the UK. Michele’s project Black Gold Hotel was exhibited at the Format Festival (UK) in 2013. His work has been published in The Guardian, The Telegraph, The British Journal of Photography and National Geographic (Italy). He lives in Rome.

About the Photograph:

“This photograph was taken while I was living with a nomad family in the Gobi desert, Tuvshinbayar, the father, is playing with his children during a sandstorm. It’s part of the project Black Gold Hotel, a journey in the daily lives of a few families from the Gobi desert, where the pasture which has been the main livelihood for centuries has been disappearing in the past few decades. On one hand, those who chose to continue the tradition of the steppe despite all difficulties, on the other those who preferred to take their chances in the large cities, unfortunately facing the reality of a space which is deteriorated and invaded by unreachable western cultural models.”

Oksana Yushko December 5, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Chechnya.
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Victory Day. Grozny, Chechnya,  May 9, 2010

Oksana Yushko (b. 1975, Ukraine) started working as a professional journalist in 2006. She won the Burn Magazine EPF grant in 2013 and was the Grand Prize Winner of Lens Culture International Exposure Awards in 2011. Oksana’s work has been published in Russian Reporter, The New York Times, Financial Times (UK), Le Monde, 6Mois (France) and VISION (China). Selected exhibits include: Moscow Museum of Modern Art, exhibition of “Ward Number Laughter” project, The Browse Foto Festival Berlin, ‘Grozny: Nine Cities’ project, Tbilisi Photo Festival, exhibition of ‘Beslan Identity’ and ‘Grozny: Nine Cities’ projects and OjodePez Photo Festival Barcelona, installation of ‘Grozny: Nine Cities’ project, Barcelona, Spain. She is based in Moscow.

About the Photograph:

“It was my third trip to Grozny while working on the Grozny: Nine Cities project with my photographer colleagues. Nowadays in Russia and other post-Soviet countries Victory Day is celebrated to commemorate the Red Army’s victory over the Nazi forces in World War II. There were government officials and security people everywhere. There were also cadets from the Suvorov Military School in Grozny. Most of them are war orphans. Besides their school work, boarding school provides them with a military discipline. I was photographing the cadets standing in line while they were listening to the Presidents speech. They were under the control of the officers the whole time. The moment when one of officer’s placed his hand on the boys head I knew I had the shot that captured the whole situation in Chechnya under Kadyrov’s regime.

James Morgan December 2, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Gabon.
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From a story about the Illegal wildlife trade in Gabon 2012

James Morgan (b. 1986, England) is a photojournalist and filmmaker based in London but works mostly across Asia, Africa and South America shooting in-depth features and advocacy campaigns for the WWF, BBC, Sunday Times, New York Times, Guardian, USAID and many others. Recent work has included an investigative report on the election race in Papua New Guinea and a group of indigenous female wrestlers fighting back against discrimination in Bolivia. Having traveled to over sixty countries, James can speak Malaysian, Spanish, Icelandic and Indonesian. He is an ambassador for the underwater housing manufacturer Aquatech and represented by both Panos Pictures and Getty Images in London.

About the Photograph:

“This image is part of an advocacy campaign I shot for WWF last year on wildlife crime, and particularly on the link it has with terrorism and international security. Mba Ndong Marius, an eco guard, is holding seized Ivory tusks in front of a pile of confiscated weapons in Gabon, Central Africa. The tusks and weapons are waiting to be taken to the capital Libreville, where the Gabonese president, Ali Bongo Ondimba, is about to burn over ten million dollars worth of confiscated Ivory in an effort to send out a strong anti-poaching message to the world. Of course supply follows demand in illegal trades and until the demand for elephant ivory is eradicated we will keep losing elephants. Last year was the worst ever for elephant poaching, conservative estimates put the number of elephants killed for their tusks at around 35,000.”

Melissa Golden November 28, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Saudi Arabia Cultural Mission Graduation Ceremony, United States 2012

Melissa Golden (b.1984, USA) is a Washington, D.C. based editorial photographer. She enjoyed a nomadic childhood courtesy of the U.S. Military and her photography is directly influenced by her stints on both American coasts, the Deep South, and the Middle East. After graduating from the University of Georgia with degrees in International Relations and Journalism, she transitioned from newspapers to the wires to the magazine work she does today. Melissa’s photography has been recognized by American Photography 29, the White House News Photographer’s Association, and the Eddie Adams Workshop and has been shown at exhibitions in DC, LA, Stockholm and Cape Town. She is a contributing photographer with Redux Pictures and her clients include Parade, Fast Company, Bloomberg Businessweek, ESPN Magazine, Esquire and Marie Claire among others.

About the Photograph:

“The Wall Street Journal called me up to document a graduation ceremony at National Harbor outside Washington, D.C. for a story about Saudi nationals seeking higher education in the United States. The ceremony was sponsored by the Saudi government, as was the university bill for every single one of the students there. They were the all part of a program that subsidized the foreign education of the country’s best and brightest in an effort to groom them for leadership roles both in Saudi Arabia and globally. The enrollment of Saudi students at U.S. institutions has jumped dramatically since a precipitous falloff after 9-11 when tough restrictions were enacted.”

“As a child, I lived in Bahrain for two years and while I haven’t been back, shooting this ceremony was a bit of a nostalgic sensory overload experience for me. I gravitated toward the women in particular during the day for a few reasons. I found them visually distinctive, in that even though both male and female graduates wore the same cap and gown uniform that day, the women (with a single exception I noticed immediately) remained observant to various degrees with hijabs and veils. I also was surprised to see the sheer number of female graduates in attendance, a far larger contingent than I had expected. This photo was shot prior to the ceremony as the graduates began to stream in and take their seats, separated by gender, of course. The Saudi greens versus the pinks of lipsticks on bare faces, a scarf, and the one woman’s cell phone cover were particularly striking to me. There were still women sporting veils though and the image strikes me as a gentle collision of old world and new world values.”

Ula Wiznerowicz November 25, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Poland.
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From a project about Alcoholism in Poland 2012

Ula Wiznerowicz (b. 1986, Poland) received a BA Hons Degree in Photography at Middlesex University (2010). Her photographs have been exhibited in solo shows in Italy, England and Poland. Her careful handling of subjects and their emotive stories has won her acclaim with most recently a FotoVisura Grant, along with Ideas Tap Portfolio Award in 2012 and Channel 4/Saatchi Gallery Prize and D&AD Best New Blood Prizes in 2010.

About the Photograph:

“This image is part of the series called Behind the Curtain, focusing on the effects of alcoholism in a small rural community in Poland, where I grew up. The cycle of images depicts a personal journey through individual stories of men and women dealing with alcoholism. Although not every person in my pictures suffers from alcohol dependency, each one has, in his or her own way, encountered this problem through their relatives or circle of friends. Over the course of one year, I gathered relevant information, researching medical data, and interviewing alcoholics, their families and doctors who specialize in treating the addiction. I believe that this was essential, as it enabled me to fully understand the problem that plays a major role in my country.”

“The woman in this picture is my neighbor’s mother-in-law, who lives in Palmowo, a village of 120 inhabitants, where I grew up. She made me a coffee and started telling a story about her daughter, whose husband went to prison for domestic violence. While serving his sentence, he had gone through alcohol treatment and now hasn’t been drinking for more than seven years. Irena tells me: ‘When he came back from prison he never even said he was sorry for what he’s done. He doesn’t talk to me anymore and he stopped coming over since he finished that bloody house. In court they asked if I forgave him. I said alright, but who will pay for all our grief?’ The story she told me was was very moving and in that moment it didn’t feel right to take pictures, but she said that it’s all right…She fixed her eyes full of tears at the window and that was when I took the shot.”

Jagath Dheerasekara November 21, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Sri Lanka.
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Rosarians,Ragama, Sri Lanka, 2008

Jagath Dheerasekara (b. 1965, Sri Lanka) is an Amnesty International Human Rights Innovation Fund Grant recipient for the Manuwangku: Under the Nuclear Cloud project. His activism led to his exile in France as a political refugee. He returned to Sri Lanka in the mid 1990′s after regime change. On returning home, Jagath began a career in telecommunications and involvement in photography. His work has been published in: Artlink, the South Asia Journal for Culture, PIX Photography Quarterly and Time Machine Magazine. In Australia his photography and is mainly about Aboriginal and refugee rights. Jagath lives in Sydney.

About the Photograph:

“This photo is of the Sunday morning congregation at the Sister’s section at the Rosarian Convent chapel in Ragama, Sri Lanka. Men are not normally allowed within the inner premises and can have access only up to the parlor, the kitchen store or the section of lay persons of the chapel. Sisters maintain minimum contacts with outside. At the first visit, after a lengthy chat with the Sister Superior I was permitted to go in and photograph the chapel area dedicated only to sisters. The Nun’s lives are a daily routine done in silence, with the least verbal engagement, in reverential service to God. The routine is filled with engagement in cottage industries such as candle, syrup and jam making, cultivation and animal husbandry which provides financial support to the convent as well as providing a service to the community. Established in 1928, the Rosarians were the first entirely Christian congregation not only in Sri Lanka but also in Asia. The Rosarian order of nuns subsequently was established in 1950.”

“When I made a request to photograph their life and the space they live in I was not optimistic about it. A few weeks later came a positive response. It was a novel experience for the sisters to have a man of Buddhist background taking an interest in their Christian way of life. As friendship grew I was warmly welcomed into their space, including the offer of pure vegetarian meals as it was my food preference. The photographing intertwined with many a discussions along themes of renunciation, loving kindness, reincarnation, greed, hatred and delusion, creation and heaven, some of which are common and other exclusive to Christianity and Buddhism.”

Eric Kruszewski November 18, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Rodeo in Pendleton, Oregon 2011

Eric Kruszewski (b. 1978, USA) is a self-taught photographer based in Baltimore, Maryland. His initial education was through engineering school, thus leading to employment dismantling chemical weaponry, securing biological agents and processing nuclear waste. But business trips to sensory-overloaded Central Asia rattled his tech foundation and uncovered a passion for photography. After a 10-year stint in engineering, Eric resigned (March 2012) to practice his photography full-time. Now having traveled to 37 countries, Eric documents social, economic and cultural issues both abroad and in his backyard. His work has been published by organizations such as National Geographic (online), The Wall Street Journal and ABC News. Eric is an executive board member and mentor with the Young Photographer’s Alliance. His work is represented by National Geographic Creative.

About the Photograph:

“This photograph was made while exploring American Rodeo over a two-year period. In the summer of 2011, while driving across the country from Maryland to Washington, I discovered and witnessed my first rodeo in a small Montana town. Instantly, I was intrigued with the sport, and its surrounding culture and pageantry. Some cowboys at this first rodeo told me how the Pendleton Round-Up (held in Pendleton, Oregon) was the top event in the Pacific Northwest. So I went, a city slicker blazing with my Canon double barrels, and attended the Round-Up’s 100-year anniversary. This image, captured from outside the main arena, shows the staircase to the Directors’ Room – a gathering space for the event’s VIP. The stadium’s facade is plastered with signage that preserves past rodeo winners. At the bottom of the staircase, a security guard looks longingly, or perhaps with concern, at the group spilling out of the room onto the staircase. The cowboy in the foreground is a spectator.”

Maxim Dondyuk November 14, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Ukraine.
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From a project about Rosh Hashanah, Uman, Ukraine 2010

Maxim Dondyuk (b.1983, Ukraine) began collaborating with Kharkov media as a photojournalist in 2007. The same year he moved to Kiev and worked as a photojournalist in one of the country’s biggest photo agencies till 2010. He  trained at the NOOR-Nikon Masterclass and also  attended Magnum Photos workshop at the Leica Akademie. Maxim freelancers with the World Health Organization, Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, Foundation for “Development of Ukraine”, Kherson charitable foundations Mongoose. His work has been published in PDN, Wall Street Journal , Esquire, Forbes, Russian Reporter, Tyzhden, Focus (Ukraine), The Independent (UK), De Volkskrant (Netherlands), Berliner Zeitung, and Frankfurter Rundschau (Germany) among others.

About the Photograph:

“I went from the old Jewish cemetery to the lake, where the Hasidim usually bathe. Before reaching the lake, I heard the sound of a violin. I didn’t see a soul except a fiddler, so took some photos of him. After a while a lonely Hasid came to swim. I prepared to take a photo as the fiddler moved a little and the sun reflected in the lake. That was a lucky accident when everything coincided and I took this photo. It was during the Jewish celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the New Year.”

“Uman is an ordinary Ukranian town with the population of about 90,000 people which became one of the largest centers of Jewish pilgrimage outside Israel. During this period about 20,000 pilgrims from all the continents come here annually to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and to pray at the grave of the founder of Hasidism Rabbi Nahman from Breslav, who died in Uman in 1810. Before his death Rabbi Nahman swore an unusual oath: If anyone comes to my grave, sacrifices a coin and reads ten chosen psalms, I’ll catch his side-locks and will draw him out of the hells depth. And it makes no difference what he has done before. Every year more and more supporters of Breslav Hasidism gather in Uman, at the grave of their Rabbi. Rabbi Nahman’s charisma is so strong, that Hasids have never chosen his successor. I have been shooting the Rosh Hashanah project for five years and am currently finishing a multimedia version of the story.”

Helge Skodvin November 11, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Norway.
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Volvo 240. Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway. 2011

Helge Skodvin (b.1968, Norway) started out as a carpenter, but laid down his hammer and took up the camera instead. He has a degree in photography from the London College of Printing. From 2010 he has divided his time between assignments for magazines such as GEO and in-depth projects in Norway. His images have been book covers for writers such as Ian McEwan, John Banville among others. Helge’s work was exhibited this fall at the Noorderlicht Photo Festival in the Netherlands and at FotoDoks in Germany. He is based in Bergen, Norway and is a member of MOMENT Agency and Millennium Images.

About the Photograph:

“I went to the Svalbard archipelago to hunt. Halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. Not for polar bears, but for an old Volvo 240 that I knew was there. This day I was having a quick break and a chocolate bar when I saw something in the distance. Could it be? I found my binoculars. Yes it is! A Volvo 240! Parked in the most scenic of places. I ran. I have been photographing these cars for a project called 240 landscape. More than any other car, the Volvo 240 became a symbol of Norwegian and Nordic values. The safe, the sound, the commonplace. Square and homely, yet solid and reliable. Function over form. No frills. Taking you from A to Z. An ambassador for the Scandinavian social democracy. I have been photographing these cars as they are parked. I want to show how we live, how our surroundings look. I wish to portray the everyday landscape.”

Dimitris Michalakis November 7, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Greece.
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Gypsy Settlement from the project “Nato Avenue”. Athens, Greece 2008

Dimitris Michalakis (b. 1977, Greece) studied photography at the Focus School of Photography in Athens. Since 2004 he has been a regular contributor to K Magazine, (Kathimerini Sunday edition). His photographs have been published in Spiegel, Die Zeit and  Rolling Stones Magazine. Dimitris has traveled on journalistic missions to more than 30 countries, mainly in the former Soviet Union. His work has been exhibited at the Coalmine Gallery, Zurich, the LUMIX Festival for Young Photojournalism in Hanover, Germany and the Bursa Photography Festival in Turkey. He is currently based in Athens.

About the Photograph:

“Nato Avenue, in the western suburbs of Αthens, crosses the most degraded part of the city. The area is a puzzle of urban sprawl; factories, refineries, shipyards a military airport and the largest rubbish dump in the country. Right below this dump, gypsy immigrants from North Albania have come and settled. They have built a settlement that grew bigger as more Albanian gypsies kept coming. They make their living in the rubbish dump. The work is divided; men collect recyclable material, paper, plastic and steel, while women gather clothes, carpets or anything thrown away by super markets and food companies. It is fenced and guarded. Police have destroyed the settlement every now and then and are on constant patrol making access to the dump almost impossible.”

“Vassilis, the first immigrant to arrive in this land, is my narrator. Vassilis came here all alone. His children and grand children followed. They all live together in an abandoned barn surrounded the shanty town built around it. The structure of his family, like every other family of this community, is patriarchal. As the oldest man of the family, has the first and the last word. He sells his daily merchandise to the recycling companies of the area, while women collect, wash and sell clothes in flea markets in Greece and Albania. Vassilis an informal leader. They call him detector, not only because he finds good merchandise, but also because he is found this location in 1991. He guided me through this settlement and I’m indebted to him for all his help on my Nato Avenue project.”

Hossein Fatemi November 4, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Somalia.
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Mogadisho, Somalia 2011

Hossein Fatemi (b.1980, Iran) began to make photographs in 1997 at the Center of Youth Cinema in Tehran. He has worked in Lebanon, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Georgia, Russia, India, Somalia, Kenya, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. In 2004, he began his professional career by joining the Fars News Agency. In 2009 Hossein worked with UPI and traveled to Afghanistan and produced a photographic record of that country’s events. His work has been published in The Times, Newsweek, Time, Paris Match, The New York Times, The Guardian and The Washington Post. Since 2007 after the collapse of Taliban he has focused his career on Afghanistan. Hossein was the first Iranian photojournalist to be embedded with American troops in Afghanistan. He is represented by Panos Pictures.

About the Photograph:

“A group of children and young men play with a football in the district of Hamar Wayene. The building in the background shows the scars of a civil war that has ravaged the country since 1991. Somalia has not had a functioning central government since 1991. While northern parts of the country have broken away, setting up de facto states including Puntland and Somaliland, the rest of the country remains in a state of chaos. After heavy fighting in the summer of 2012, transitional government forces were driven back by the Al Shabab from positions previously held causing tens of thousands to flee and making a severe drought situation in the country significantly worse. Those who were able to make their way to the Kenyan border fled in their thousands to the infamous Dadaab refugee camp which has been sheltering Somalis since the early 1990s. International organisations were overwhelmed by the sudden influx and the worsening crisis.”

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