We all know that photojournalists put themselves into some serious dangers just to open our eyes to the most pressing issues happening across the globe. But some go even beyond to show exactly how life-threatening their assignments can get. In a 2016 video feature by AJ+, freelance photojournalist Ahmed Deeb lets viewers tag along as he perilously documents the conflicts in Gaza and Syria.
As we’ve learned in the video, Ahmed’s work is both a journalistic and deeply personal mission. A self-taught photographer, losing family members in the Gaza conflicts kept him driven to pursue this line of work, despite the incredible dangers. “An Israeli warplane, they bombed the house of my uncles. So they killed 11 members of my family; my uncles, their sons, daughters, children. The death of my family gave me motivation to be a photojournalist.”
Hearing a conflict photographer like Ahmed say that he faces a lot of risk while on assignment is one thing; seeing him in at work and practically with one foot in the grave is a chilling reminder of the harsh realities of the job. However, this is not the only danger that Ahmed faces as photographer from the Arab community. Despite earning several prestigious international awards for his photography, the reality remains that his work is poorly paid. In fact, the video tells us that he gets a fraction of what his European and Northern American colleagues are paid, even if he feels that Arab journalists like him are the ones who are suffering.
“The agency, they are not paying well. They are dealing with me as an Arab photographer or as a local journalist, not like an international journalist,” he lamented. Because of this, he can’t even afford to buy protective gear for his work in Syria — a sad reality that nearly cost him his life while on assignment in Aleppo.
With a camera as his weapon, Ahmed braves the front lines representing the photographer as “The Son of War” as he has come to be known. He certainly wasn’t the first, and as long as there are conflicts that the world needs to learn about, he and his colleagues won’t be the last.
Screenshot image from the video by AJ+