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Sumaya Agha
Sumaya Agha
Sumaya Agha

Sumaya Agha

Country: Syria/United States
Birth: 1970

Sumaya Agha is a freelance photographer based in Portland, OR, who began documenting the Syrian refugee crisis over four years ago in Jordan and Europe. She is of Syrian descent with many aunts, uncles, and cousins still living in Damascus. Sumaya holds a BS in Applied Art and Design with a concentration in Photography from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, CA and an MPA from Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Her worked appeared in the Huffington Post, BBC Focus on Africa, Forbes Africa, and NPR.org, and she was a still photographer for the Academy Award winning film “The Fog of War.” She has lived in Syria, Liberia, and the United States.

Watching from afar as civil war ripped apart Syria, I felt compelled to help the refugees whose lives have been destroyed by the conflict. And with dozens of close relatives enduring the horrors in their hometown of Damascus, I had a personal connection to the crisis. I moved to Amman, Jordan in 2012 and began working as a photographer for humanitarian organizations helping mitigate the crisis that had spilled over from neighboring Syria.

While in Jordan, I spent many days in the refugee camps and host communities, getting to know countless families living there and documenting their substandard living conditions. I heard myriad stories of heartbreaking loss and brutality and enduring spirit, and found that hopelessness is pervasive among the young, as they cannot see a future for themselves.

In January 2016 I went on assignment to Macedonia and Serbia to photograph the refugees migrating through the Balkans. Throughout the freezing winter, 2,200 refugees per day crossed into Serbia. Up to 10,000 a day crossed in warmer months. They came from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, including many families with young children. The typical journey went like this: flee their home country, take a perilous raft ride from Turkey to Greece, and then move onward through foreign lands in search of a peaceful home.

Now that the Balkan borders are closed to refugees, thousands are stranded in Eastern Europe, hoping to be relocated to Western Europe. More than 60,000 refugees are in camps throughout Greece, including Ritsona Refugee Camp, where I went on assignment in July to document the crisis.

With no end in sight to the conflict in Syria and elsewhere, the refugee crisis is certain to continue right along with it. That means millions of regular people continuing to seek safety and some sense of normalcy in the absence of peace.
 

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More Great Photographers To Discover

Simon Roberts
United Kingdom
1974
Simon Roberts is a British photographic artist based in Brighton, UK. Often employing expansive landscape photographs, his approach is one of creating wide-ranging surveys of our time, which communicate on important social, economic and political issues. Roberts has been exhibited widely with We English touring to over thirty national and international venues. He’s had solo shows at the National Media Museum, Bradford, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai, and been included in numerous group exhibitions. Recent shows include Observers: British Photography and the British Scene (From the 1920s to Now) at Galeria de Arte SESI, Brazil, and Landmark: The Fields of Photography at Somerset House, London. His photographs reside in major public and private collections, including the George Eastman House, Deutsche Börse Art Collection and Wilson Centre for Photography. In recognition for his work, Roberts has received several awards including the Vic Odden Award (2007) - offered for a notable achievement in the art of photography by a British photographer, along with bursaries from the National Media Museum (2007), John Kobal Foundation (2008) and grants from Arts Council England (2007, 2010, 2011, 2014). He was commissioned as the official Election Artist by the House of Commons Works of Art Committee to produce a record of the 2010 General Election on behalf of the UK Parliament. In 2012 he was granted access by the International Olympic Committee to photograph the London Olympics and most recently was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, UK (2013). He has published three critically acclaimed monographs, Motherland (Chris Boot, 2007), We English (Chris Boot, 2009) - voted by Martin Parr as one of the best photography books of the past decade - and Pierdom (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2013). One commentator has described his photographs as “subtle in their discovery and representation of forms of cultural character, which, upon closer inspection, reveal a richness of detail and meaning. They exhibit a disciplined compositional restraint, a richness of palette, and a wealth of narrative incident. Also represented by MC2 Gallery
Andreas Feininger
United States
1906 | † 1999
Andreas Bernhard Lyonel Feininger (December 27, 1906 - February 18, 1999) was an American photographer and a writer on photographic technique. He was noted for his dynamic black-and-white scenes of Manhattan and for studies of the structures of natural objects. Feininger was born in Paris, France, the eldest son of Julia Berg, a German Jew, and the American painter and art educator Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956). His paternal grandparents were the German violinist Karl Feininger (1844-1922) and the American singer Elizabeth Feininger, (née Lutz), who was also of German descent. His younger brother was the painter and photographer T. Lux Feininger (1910-2011). In 1908 the Feininger family moved to Berlin, and in 1919 to Weimar, where Lyonel Feininger took up the post of Master of the Printing Workshop at the newly formed Bauhaus art school. Andreas left school at 16, in 1922, to study at the Bauhaus; he graduated as a cabinetmaker in April 1925. After that he studied architecture, initially at the Staatliche Bauschule Weimar (State Architectural College, Weimar) and later at the Staatliche Bauschule Zerbst. (Zerbst is a city in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, about 20 km from Dessau, where the Bauhaus moved to in 1926.) The Feininger family moved to Dessau with the Bauhaus. In addition to continuing his architectural studies in Zerbst, Andreas developed an interest in photography and was given guidance by neighbour and Bauhaus teacher László Moholy-Nagy. In 1936, he gave up architecture and moved to Sweden, where he focused on photography. In advance of World War II, in 1939, Feininger immigrated to the U.S. where he established himself as a freelance photographer. In 1943 he joined the staff of Life magazine, an association that lasted until 1962. Feininger became famous for his photographs of New York. Other frequent subjects among his works were science and nature, as seen in bones, shells, plants, and minerals in the images of which he often stressed their structure. Rarely did he photograph people or make portraits. Feininger wrote comprehensive manuals about photography, of which the best known is The Complete Photographer. In the introduction to one of Feininger's books of photographs, Ralph Hattersley, the editor of the photography journal Infinity, described him as "one of the great architects who helped create photography as we know it today." In 1966, the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) awarded Feininger its highest distinction, the Robert Leavitt Award. In 1991, the International Center of Photography awarded Feininger the Infinity Lifetime Achievement Award. Today, Feininger's photographs are in the permanent collections of the Center for Creative Photography, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, London's Victoria and Albert Museum, and the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. Source: Wikipedia
Désirée Dolron
Netherlands
1963
Désirée Dolron is a Dutch photographer and filmmaker. Her oeuvre ranges from documentary photography and still lifes to portraiture and film.Throughout her career, Dolron has been investigating themes such as the passing of time, the relation between finite and transcendent and the complexity and impermanence of the human condition. Dolron was awarded the 1996 Laureate Prix de Rome (Amsterdam, NL). Her work is represented in numerous international public and private collections including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Collection H&F in Barcelona, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, la Collection Neuflize Vie in Paris and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Désirée Dolron lives and works in Amsterdam. Source: desireedolron.com The meticulous attention to production details characterizes her body of work, and elements such as sound (or its absence –silence) are often used as important tools of narration, helping the viewer to enter into the conceptual depth of Dolron’s works. Both moving and still images are composed by the artist and manage to recreate a reality that is a-temporal, undefined yet extremely present. Desirée Dolron (1963 Haarlem, NL) was awarded the 1996 Laureate Prix de Rome (Amsterdam, NL), and her work is part of major international collections such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (US), the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid (SP), the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (NL), and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (UK). Source: GRIMM Gallery
Chris Rainier
Canada
1958
Chris Rainier is a National Geographic Society EXPLORER and documentary photographer/filmmaker - who is highly respected for his documentation of endangered cultures and traditional languages around the globe. In 2002 he was awarded the Lowell Thomas Award by the Explorers Club for his efforts on cultural preservation, and in 2014 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society of London/UK -specializing in cultural preservation He is the Director of The Cultural Sanctuaries Foundation - a global program focused on preserving Biodiversity and Traditional Cultural Knowledge. During his continued tenure with the National Geographic Society he has been the co-founder and co-director of both the Enduring Voices Language Project and Director of the All Roads Photography Program, designed to support indigenous groups with modern technology desiring to document their traditional culture and create sustainable solutions to preserve the planet in the 21st Century. In addition as a NG Fellow he was an Editor for NG Traveler focused on documentation of traditional culture. Rainier has completed photographic projects for the United Nations, UNESCO, Amnesty International, Conservation International, the Smithsonian Institution, Time Magazine, the New York Times, LIFE Magazine, and the National Geographic Society. Rainier has photographed global culture, conflict, famine, and war in such places as: Somalia, Sarajevo/Bosnia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Cambodia, and Iraq for TIME Magazine, - and for NPR Radio. In the early 1980's Rainier was Ansel Adams last photographic assistant- during his tenure with the noted photographer- he worked with Mr. Adams to amplify the use of Art Photography as a social tool - helping to preserve threatened wilderness areas and National Parks. Rainier went on to collaborate with UNESCO and IUCN on a Global Project using photography to preserve endangered wilderness areas around the world. Rainier's photography and books have been widely shown and collected by museums around the world, including the Australian Museum in Sydney, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the International Center of Photography in New York, the George Eastman House International Museum in Rochester, New York, The National Geographic Society, and the United Nations.
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