Going on assignment to Saudi Arabia can be a daunting task to many photographers. The private culture of Saudi Arabia can make it difficult to tell the story accurately. In this short documentary, photojournalist Ziyah Gaifc delivers some insight he has drawn from his experiences:
When Gafic was assigned to do a piece on the lifestyles of Saudi women, he had to enlist the help of a local production company to find people he could interview and photograph. Having been a photographer for so long, Gafic says he isn’t surprised by many things; however, the one thing that continues to surprise him is the kind of unspoken trust between himself as a photographer and his subject. Even in cultures that choose to remain private, such as Saudi Arabia, he is continually stunned at the ease in which he is approached with by those he is photographing.
Growing up in Bosnia during the height of the Bosnian war inspired Gafic to become a photojournalist. Being too young to enlist, he recalls feeling helpless in bringing the war to end. Years later while working on a group project as a young photographer, Gafic was moved by a visit to a facility in Bosnia which contains databases of unidentified remains from the Bosnian war and also houses the personal artifacts of those who lost their life during the war, in hopes to reunite the items with the rightful family members.
Wanting to work on a project that minimizes his influence as a photographer and gives back to the community at the same time, Gafic began work on a project called Quest For Identity. In this project, Gafic photographed all the artifacts in a very clean unassuming manner. This process saves families from making a painful trip to the facility in hopes of recovering bits of information about their loved ones.
“It’s amazing how absoluteness attachment in form can actually create an extremely personal piece of work. Everyone has a wristwatch, everyone has family pictures in their wallet. It allows you as a reader to create a story,” Gafic says of Quest for Identity.
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