Looking over the work, and reflecting on your time covering Syria, does one particular event or aspect of the conflict stand out as having changed you as a photographer and journalist?
I lived through the most difficult moments of my life after having photographed the executions. I still believe it was the right thing to do, in order to collect evidence of what was going on in Syria. But witnessing this event had a strong mental impact on me. I had to face trauma afterwards. I even gave up photography for a few months, no longer wanting to touch the camera. But knowing that people live with this brutal reality every day, I can’t complain.
After these ten years – do you feel any hope for Syria? And has ten years of making work in a place that’s seen so little positive change altered your view at all of the power of media, and reporting?
I can’t really say I have hope. How do you bring back people who have lost their lives there? Thousands of children were born in this war. They grew up in violence and have known only that. Others had to flee and have already forgotten what Syria was like. My only hope is that our work could maybe help Syrians to be better understood, to create more caring for them and empathy toward them, especially by their host communities around the world.
— Emin Özmen