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A Photographer in Gaza - Slate Magazine Article

We all struggle to find audiences for our work. All hoping to make people aware of the realities that we encounter. On Slate web magazine, Polaris photojournalist Scout Tufankjian has a really nice, straight forward piece describing her work and day to day life in Gaza.

check it.

http://www.slate.com/id/2146770/nav/tap1/

you can see more of Scout’s work at http://www.polarisimages.com/

by [a former member] at 2006-07-29 20:33:55 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Los Angeles, CA , United States | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Thanks dude!

Btw, I didn’t choose the title.

by Scout Tufankjian | 29 Jul 2006 20:07 | Gaza City, Gaza Strip / Occupied Palestinian Territory | | Report spam→
Great job, Socut.
From a fellow Polaris photographer

by [former member] | 29 Jul 2006 20:07 (ed. Jul 29 2006) | Santiago, Chile | | Report spam→
way to go Scout, nice! When you are back in Brooklyn, tell us “how to take a picture of a war”!!!

by [former member] | 29 Jul 2006 21:07 | Brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
Please don’t take this the wrong way, Scout, I like your photographs, but in all the years that I have been following this conflict I have seen many photographs of the rockthrowing and the funerals and violence, which make very strong pictures, but I have never seen a story about, say, the daily life of a Palestinian in the occupied teritories, or about the dreams of say, a young girl who has known nothing but war.
Unfortunately many photo agencies are not interested in these kind of subtle story, but are much more wanting the violence because that is what sells.
For me the idea that there is a ferris wheel in Gaza is much more interesting than the morgue. I would argue that the only way you are going to change public opinion is by showing the Palestinians as ordinary people, so that Americans cares about them, and not repeat the same pictures of the masked gunmen, men in the morgue, funerals, etc. which really just have the result of renewing the same stereotypes and frightening people.
I am not saying this at all to detract from the quality of your pictures, or to say that the hard news pictures are not important, but if you are really starting to have missgivings about composing interesting shots of dead bodies, I would offer that it might make sense to start looking at another part of the story, or by looking at the story in another way.
For example the pictures of the dead bodies in the morgue are more likely to elicit change if we know something about who the men are, and are not just caught up in your composition…..I say this because it applies to what I do too, and what I may do in the future, and it applies directly to my experience in New Orleans. Certain stereotypes that were underlying many of the pictures that came out of here, of the people who were stuck outside the Convention Center for example, were unfortunate, and the media, and by that I mean the people in the offices who really make the decisions about what is seem, refuse to look at events in any other way. We need to make them look at people in any other way.

by [former member] | 29 Jul 2006 23:07 (ed. Jul 30 2006) | new orleans, United States | | Report spam→
Of course I have been working on these stories. I have been working here in Gaza for three years. How could I not? I have even applied for several grants with the basic proposal idea being that the reason that this conflict is able to continue is that the West sees Israel and the Israelis as being “just like us” and the Palestinians as being alien— gunmen and old men with keffiyehs and donkeys, when in fact Palestinians are as “just like us” as the Israelis.
If you could see my entire archive you would see that I have been steadily working on theses stories (and in fact that my portfolio as far as I can recall does not contain any “men with guns” pictures). The earlier draft of my essay discussed these issues. That information was cut for space, as they wanted something that focused on a particular day, in which I was assigned to cover spot news.

Moreover, I don’t know about any other photo agency but my own, Polaris, but I assure you that they are very interested in these kind of subtle stories.

by Scout Tufankjian | 30 Jul 2006 04:07 (ed. Jul 30 2006) | Gaza City, Gaza Strip / Occupied Palestinian Territory | | Report spam→
“just like us”? Innocent children are tought to be shahids, toguht that dying for Islam is the best thing they could achieve in life.
I’m not saying anything about their rights or anything political, but saying “just like us” is in the good case to be naive,
and a liar in the bad case. I’ve lived all my life with Palestinians around me and I love them on a personal level – they are usualy warm,
kind, have wisdom of life and a beautiful tradition and culture, but I resent their dynamics as a collective. I see a street dynamics of
violence. I know some would say it’s the Israeli occupation to blame. Still, nothing justifies educating pure souls to hate and die.
I must say these words, although I know many of my esteemed collegues would not take them as honest, because I’m Israeli.

by Ahikam Seri | 30 Jul 2006 06:07 | Jerusalem, Israel | | Report spam→
You are absolutely right that nothing justifies teaching children to hate and die, but in my experience, most Palestinian children (like anywhere) are not taught to be shahids and are in fact taught that going to college and having a family are the best things that they could achieve in life.

Of course there are a number of exceptions (most famously Umm Nedal, who terrifies me), but I doubt that this kind of thing is any more pervasive than it is anywhere else in the world, it is just mych more heavily covered by the media. There have been publicized accounts (the one I remember most clearly was in a New Yorker article) of settler parents wishing the same thing for their kids. Moreover, gang/street violence (with heavy youth involvement) is something that pervades every poverty striken area of the world from American to Thailand. Why should the Palestinians be immune?

Look, I’m certainly not saying that Palestinians are better than anybody else and that any flaws in a Palestinian purely come from the occupation. I’m just saying that they are not any different from anybody else. Most people just want a job, a nice home, security for their families, a hot wife/husband, etc etc etc.

I lived in Northern Ireland for a while in my late teens/early twenties, and while the cultures are pretty different, the end result was somewhat similar. Kids wanted to grow up to join the paramilitary brigade of their choice. The criminal element was being funneled into these groups that gave them both a sense of purpose and an excuse to do whatever horrible things that their twisted minds could come up with—leading to atrocities.

Not so different.

Anyway, take care and we should grab a drink (which I am pathetically dying for—fucking Hamas) the next time I am in Jerusalem.

by Scout Tufankjian | 30 Jul 2006 06:07 (ed. Jul 30 2006) | Gaza City, Gaza Strip / Occupied Palestinian Territory | | Report spam→
Great article and pics, Scout. Stay safe out there and hope at least have some delectable cheese around to
compensate for the lack of booze. Hope to see you in New York sometime in the fall..

by [former member] | 30 Jul 2006 09:07 | Basra, Iraq | | Report spam→
Great photos and excellent article.

by [former member] | 30 Jul 2006 10:07 | Boston, United States | | Report spam→
Scout that really was an excellent article. I would like to see you write up some text to accompany a series of images of daily life for a different kind of article along the lines that you and Andy are discussing. I think you would do a smashing job.

by Jon Anderson | 30 Jul 2006 11:07 | a casa, Dominican Republic | | Report spam→
“Kids wanted to grow up to join the paramilitary brigade of their choice”
scout,
i hope your grasp of the situation in the middle east is better than your(mis)understanding of northern ireland.the great majority of people in ireland and england wanted nothing to do with the paramilitaries.to suggest that children ‘wanted’ to join is ridiculous.
i was in a bar in manhattan once where i was given a very hard time by one of those americans who had a great grandparent that once drank a pint a pint of guinness.he very proudly taunted me with his tales of sending money to the i.r.a.,because ,as he put it,engalnd was at war with ireland.it transpired,during the course of our ‘conversation’ that this cretin was a protestant! i f his ignorance wasn’t so tragic it would have been funny,although it did me the opportunity to mercilessly take the piss out of him,until he slunk off,tail between his legs.
one of the very few good things to come out of 9/11 was the almost instant dismantling of american support for the various factions in ireland.perhaps they should apply the same rules to israel?

by Michael Bowring | 30 Jul 2006 11:07 | Belgrade, Serbia | | Report spam→
No look, you are misunderstanding what I am saying, and reading over my response again I realize that I did not frame the Ireland part correctly.

What I was trying to say was that just as in Gaza, kids in my neighborhood in Derry used to play at being paramilitaries and used to say that they wanted to grow up to join the faction of their choice. What I meant to say, and perhaps I thought it was too obvious to state (and I was tired) was that, like in the Palestinian Territories (or whatever you want to call it) this was not everyone. These were kids from a frontline neighborhood who lived in particularly shitty conditions, where armed gunmen would hold rallies in their neighborhoods, not England, Ireland, or even most of Northern Ireland. I found this to be true in most of the front line areas, whether they were Republican or Loyalist. Obviously most of these kids did not grow up to join the PIRA or the UDA or whatever, but there were many kids in Portadown who hero-worshiped Billy Wright as much as the kids here look up to their local Hamas guys.

I am failing to understand where in my comment you found support for the IRA or the UDA, or where Americans give financial support to the factions here in Gaza, although perhaps you were referring to the US aid to the PA and Fatah that was cut off after the election. Moreover, during the time that the “cretin’s” Guinness swilling great-grandfather was in Ireland, wasn’t it the Protestants, rather than the Catholics, who were battling the British?

by Scout Tufankjian | 30 Jul 2006 16:07 (ed. Jul 30 2006) | Gaza City, Gaza Strip / Occupied Palestinian Territory | | Report spam→
No look, you are misunderstanding what I am saying, and reading over my response again I realize that I did not frame the Ireland part correctly.
What I was trying to say was that just as in Gaza, kids in my neighborhood in Derry used to play at being paramilitaries and used to say that they wanted to grow up to join the faction of their choice. What I meant to say, and perhaps I thought it was too obvious to state (and I was tired) was that, like in the Palestinian Territories (or whatever you want to call it) this was not everyone. These were kids from a frontline neighborhood who lived in particularly shitty conditions, where armed gunmen would hold rallies in their neighborhoods, not England, Ireland, or even most of Northern Ireland. I found this to be true in most of the front line areas, whether they were Republican or Loyalist. Obviously most of these kids did not grow up to join the PIRA or the UDA or whatever, but there were many kids in Portadown who hero-worshiped Billy Wright as much as the kids here look up to their local Hamas guys.
I am failing to understand where in my comment you found support for the IRA or the UDA, or where Americans give financial support to the factions here in Gaza, although perhaps you were referring to the US aid to the PA and Fatah that was cut off after the election. Moreover, during the time that the “cretin’s” Guinness swilling great-grandfather was in Ireland, wasn’t it the Protestants, rather than the Catholics, who were battling the British?

by Scout Tufankjian | 30 Jul 2006 19:07 | Gaza City, Gaza Strip / Occupied Palestinian Territory | | Report spam→
Scout, would be great to sit over beer or alike, once the northern war is over.
My mobile, when dialed from within, is 052-3452835. Take care and best of luck, A

by Ahikam Seri | 30 Jul 2006 23:07 | Jerusalem, Israel | | Report spam→
You too. I’ll PM you my Orange number as soon as I get a chance. A beer sounds like heaven right now.

by Scout Tufankjian | 30 Jul 2006 23:07 | Gaza City, Gaza Strip / Occupied Palestinian Territory | | Report spam→
Ahikam,

Maybe I misunderstood… Do you suggest that Palestinian children are inherently different than Israeli children? I would think that is a dangerous line of thought. Perhaps Israeli children are not taught to die, but to hate? Perhaps the most famous pictures so far from this sad affair is of the Israeli children writing messages on artillery shells. It’s reasonable to believe Israeli children would also be willing to die for their cause if they were brought up to think that way.

Personally, as an outsider who’s never been to that part of the world, I’m equally disgusted by each side of the conflict. I sincerely wish for the violence to be over, but sometimes I feel like they deserve each other. It is possible to negotiate an intactable situation without so much bloodshed.

by Dave Yoder | 31 Jul 2006 06:07 | Milan, Italy | | Report spam→
Scout, i’m a freelance journo from canada in the region, and would like to chat.

Please email me at:

aaronmgoodman@gmail.com

Thanks. Aaron.

by Aaron Goodman | 08 Aug 2006 09:08 | vancouver, Israel | | Report spam→

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Participants

Scout Tufankjian, Red Sox Fan, Snapper Scout Tufankjian
Red Sox Fan, Snapper
Brooklyn! , United States
Ahikam Seri, Photojournalist Ahikam Seri
Photojournalist
Jerusalem , Israel
Jon Anderson, Photographer & Writer Jon Anderson
Photographer & Writer
Ocala Florida , United States
Michael Bowring, photographer Michael Bowring
photographer
Belgrade , Serbia
Dave Yoder, Dave Yoder
Milan , Italy
Aaron Goodman, Aaron Goodman
(Video journalist)
Bangkok , Thailand ( BKK )


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