Author Archives: Ed Kashi

Gold Mining in Ghana

Just two weeks ago I had the tremendous privilege of witnessing what can happen when a small, poor, and, in the eyes of the modern world, underdeveloped community confronts a large, multinational mining company. The small, remote and rural community of Tanchara, Ghana rejected an Australian gold mining operation and kicked that company off their lands. I learned about this and more while working on an eye-opening film project in Ghana, a small West African country, with the New Media Advocacy Project. This story takes place in Tanchara, which is near the border with Burkina Faso in the Upper Western region of Ghana. It is the story of a remote community that successfully repelled a huge, multinational gold mining company from exploiting their land and resources. Tanchara’s story is inspirational because it is a model for communities around the world to stand up to extractive companies who wish to profit from the exploitation and potential destruction of their land and ways of life.

Scenes in the village of Tanchara, Ghana between July 25-31, 2016.

Photo ©Ed Kashi/VII

Tanchara was guided through this process by a local NGO, CIKOD (Centre For Indigenous Knowledge & Organizational Development), which has created tools to help communities in Africa and around the world to mobilize …

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Anderson Ranch Advanced 3 Year Mentor Program

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The 2016 Anderson Ranch Advanced Workshop group at Anderson Ranch in Colorado.

I just completed a magical week at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center with Jim Estrin of The New York Times. We are co-teaching a three year Advanced Mentor Program with ‘the ranch.’ Jim and I will be mentoring 15 participants who range in ages and experience levels with photography, but who all share a passion for their projects and a keen desire to grow. They have become part of what has emerged as one of the most unique opportunities in the photo documentary world. The idea for this workshop was borne last year while Jim and I were co-teaching a one week workshop in Snowmass, Colorado, where Anderson Ranch is located. The opportunity to mentor photographers over an extended period of time was something that appealed to both of us.With the wisdom and support of Andrea Wallace, who is the director of the photography program at Anderson Ranch, our idea became a reality this past week.

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Jim Estrin, Andrea Wallace and Ed Kashi at Anderson Ranch.

There were more than 100 applicants to this program, but in the end we had to choose 15 candidates all of …

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Human Rights Visual Storytelling

My political consciousness began to develop before I even knew what politics were. Growing up in New York in the 60s and 70s imbued me with a sense of social and political justice. It was in the air, the music and the culture of that time. Once I decided that storytelling was my future, it was only a matter of time before I discovered that photography could be fused with the great traditions of social justice and the raising of political awareness. I became aware of the power that images and stories can have, and I quickly found examples of this: either the early work of Jacob Riis or the more contemporary work of Eugene Smith, particularly his ‘Minamata’ project, Philip Jones Griffiths’ work on Vietnam Inc or Eugene Richards’ Cocaine True Cocaine Blue.

Despite having found what I wanted to do in the work of others, it took many years for me to understand how to harness this ability and power within my own work. From my early photographs of the Kurdish struggle for independence to more recent work on the enduring impact of Agent Orange, my commitment to journalism that can make a difference has become

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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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