Author Archives: Ed Kashi

Delta Blues Again: Trust Nobody

A woman peeks out of her doorway in the Niger Delta town of Sanghana on July 24, 2004.

A woman peeks out of her doorway in the Niger Delta town of Sanghana on July 24, 2004.

I return to the Niger Delta under a foreboding sky filled with rain clouds that shroud a burning hot sun. It has been seven years since I was last here. I have returned to work on a film about the village of Bodo, which experienced two major oil spills from a Shell pipeline in 2008 and 2009. The community was represented by a London law firm and received a £55 million settlement in 2015. This was a first for any community in the Niger Delta. We have come to tell this story and make a film that will help other communities facing incoming extractive industries to prepare themselves to protect and secure their environments and livelihoods. The frustrating part of this story, one that is all too familiar to me from my past experiences here, is that while the compensation has benefited some, it has also deepened fissures in the community and created tensions over who got what and why some individuals didn’t get more. The people of this region have been robbed of their patrimony and rights by the federal government …

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The Photo Festival Circuit

A young girl enjoys a lollipop while watching shoppers in the Domiz Camp for Syrian Refugees just outside of Dohuk, Iraq on Nov. 23, 2013.

A young girl enjoys a lollipop while watching shoppers in the Domiz Camp for Syrian Refugees just outside of Dohuk, Iraq on Nov. 23, 2013.

I just returned from a wonderful trip to Amman, Jordan to attend an exhibition of my work on Syrian refugees at the 5th Edition of the Image Festival. I had the immense pleasure of working with the dynamic and unstoppable Linda Al Khoury. She is the organizer of this photo festival and the inspiration behind bringing folks like Josef Koudelka and an array of talented photographers from the Middle East and the Arab world to Jordan, including members from the Rawiya Photo Collective. I also had the opportunity to teach a small workshop to a group of photographers mainly from Amman. Among the participants was a very talented Italian photographer currently living in Amman, Alessio Mamo, who has produced powerful and intimate work on the Syrian refugee migrant crisis.

Somar and his trip mates on the train toward Serbia. Every refugee payed 25 euro to reach the Northern border.

Somar and his trip mates on the train toward Serbia. Every refugee payed 25 euro to reach the Northern border. ©Alessio Mamo

For the workshop I gave my students a simple assignment: Amman at work. Here is what Alessio came up with in …

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Imperfectly Invisible

For those contemplating the life of a photojournalist, beware the personal challenges and questions that await you. I have spent a lifetime trying to become invisible. As a documentarian my goal is to disappear, to observe without disturbing the world I’m trying to capture. It is obviously impossible to actually achieve this, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying. Disappearing into the background is an effective strategy to bear witness to moments that would otherwise be inaccessible. Candid intimacy is the term I’ve used to describe my work, and my vanishing into nothingness is the imperative.

People congregate at the Gare St. Charles, the main train station in Marseille, France on Sept.24, 2010.

People congregate at the Gare St. Charles – the main train station in Marseille, France on Sept. 24, 2010. Photo ©Ed Kashi/VII

But what happens when you become so expert at this that you begin to disappear in your own life? After more than 30 years of perfecting this routine in my work I am now confronting the residual impact on my personal life. It’s as though I am nothing without my work. Over the last three decades my energy has been channelled into forging my identity as a documentarian, in the process becoming very good at slipping into the mentality that has led …

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Nicaragua Unbound

My first time visiting Managua, Nicaragua in 1983 was only my second trip to a country in the developing world. I traveled with a group of American doctors from San Francisco who were going down to provide medical support to the newly victorious Sandinista government, which had overthrown the dictator, Anastasio Somoza, in 1979.  When I arrived, I was greeted by an energy that I had never felt before or since. There was a palpable joy in the air, a feeling that the people had actually freed their country and regained control of their destiny. Tragically, that was a short lived dream, mainly due to the cold war proxy fight that the Reagan administration prosecuted through the illegal Iran/Contra affair. Basically the Reagan administration covertly sold arms to Iran, and the money the CIA received was used as a slush fund to support the Contra rebels, who were fighting the Sandanistas. What transpired was a protracted conflict throughout much of the 1980’s. Whether the Sandinistas would have ever made good on their promises, it’s impossible to know given the drain on their energy, treasury, and good will, in having to fight a tough war against US-backed rebels. Here is an …

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PDN Storytellers

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The winners of the PDN Storytellers contest have been announced. This new photo contest “provides a platform for narrative photography, from documentarians bringing important context to contemporary history, to photographers finding interesting stories to tell in their own backyard.”   Among the winners two Talking Eyes Media (TEM) films were awarded in the multimedia category. Both of the winning films, “Notes for My Homeland” and “We Came and Stayed”, are part of the ongoing collaborative project between VII Photo Agency, Rutgers University – Newark and TEM, called Newest Americans. Newest Americans is  “a multimedia collaboratory of journalists, media-makers, artists, faculty and students telling the stories that radiate from the most diverse university in the nation. Based in Newark, NJ, a city shaped by migration, our project affords a glimpse into the world of the newest Americans and a vision of our demographic future.”
Malek Jandeli posterframe 2

Photo by Ed Kashi/VII


  “Notes for My Homeland” by Julie Winokur and Ed Kashi (VII), is a short film about Malek Jandali. “In response to the tragedies wrought by the Assad regime, Syrian-American composer Malek Jandali writes music that unites people, performing it at great personal risk.”
Photo by Ashley Gilbertson/VII

Photo by Ashley Gilbertson/VII



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National Geographic Smartphone Photo Workshops

In 2016, Ed Kashi will be teaching two National Geographic Photo Expedition Workshops on the subject of Smartphone Photography in New York City. The course dates will be June 4th & 5th, and October 29th & 30th. Registration is now open for both sections of this two-day expedition!


This workshop is designed for amateurs who seek to effectively use and share mobile imagery and are interested in exploring the creative side of smartphone photography. The first day of the workshop will cover fundamental technical skills for making great smartphone images, composition and creative seeing, and the elements that make a powerful image. There will also be two shooting sessions on day one in High Line Park and Times Square. The second day will highlight storytelling with your camera, post-processing apps, and social media’s impact on photography, along with a shooting session in Central Park and closing group dinner.


The workshop tuition is $995, (or with 2 night hotel $1585). See more information, the full itinerary and how to register here:


The post National Geographic Smartphone Photo Workshops appeared first on Ed Kashi.

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