November 18, 2008

Welcome Zoriah

© Zoriah. West Bank. August 2008

As part of the continuing evolution of BNN, I am pleased to introduce you to our newest contributor, Zoriah Miller.

With a background in disaster management and humanitarian relief, Zoriah has spent years working for various international aid organizations, including the Red Cross. It is this background that has fundamentally informed his photography career. Zoriah has worked extensively in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza and Lebanon and has won wide critical recognition since the early ’90’s. In 2006, in particular, he was named Photojournalist of The Year by Morepraxis; he won the VII Photo Agency Portfolio Contest; and he was included in World Picture News Networks Most Powerful Imagery of 2006.

At this point, however, Zoriah is probably best known for having been expelled from Iraq earlier this year by the U.S. military. Working as an embed, Zoriah met the ire of the powers-that-be for publishing images of U.S. military dead on his photoblog. Having witnessed a suicide attack on the unit he was attached to, Zoriah violated no codes or restrictions for documenting what he saw. (In fact, Zoriah was never charged with violating rules of the multinational force command and still retains his military credentials to work in Iraq.) Still, as part of a stringent and escalating military censorship effort, Zoriah was made an example of. (For background, I recommend photographer Michael Kamber’s NYT article on the incident. Kamber, a universally respected photojournalist, has been a mainstay in Iraq for The Times.)

Over the past few months, Zoriah has been photographing in Gaza. This particular image was taken this Fall on the Palestinian side of the Israeli wall, near Bethlehem. If the letters, split between the two barriers, creates an ominous sense, and the geography, plus the mixture of English and Arabic, evokes false campaign rumors about Obama’s religion and ethnicity, the graffiti embodies its own style of hope. In a land torn in two, perhaps Obama offers connection, even a bridge.

I welcome Zoriah to BAGnewsNotes as much as I welcome the mood and tone of his social and political imagery. I hope you will take the time to engage him and his work.

(image: © Zoriah. West Bank. August 2008.)

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