Ashraf Amra uncovers the endless faces of Gaza – showing both the conflict with Israel, and a more tender side to Palestine through his reportages of his community.
Ashraf Amra’s documentations of life in the Gaza Strip are one of the few channels into a nation whose people are often only seen for the conflict that has been ingrained into Palestinian culture. Not only in challenging this notion showing that Palestinians are not defined by a conflict through his reportages, but also through documenting the conflict in its many forms.
With two decades behind him, he has been exposed to dangerous situations, restricted mobility outside of Gaza, and has been welcomed into Gaza’s countless communities. Part of IMAGO partner Zuma Wire, along with Anadolu News Agency, Agence France Presse, Al Jazeera, Associated Press and Reuters, he has been published in major news outlets like The New York Times, The Guardian, BBC, Der Spiegel and more. He has won international awards and lives in a constant battle to continue working in the precarious field of photojournalism amidst unfathomable geopolitical, humanitarian, military and religious obstacles in his way.
Amra is one of Gaza’s many local heroes, one could say – for this month’s series, IMAGO spoke to him about his career and what photojournalism means to him as a Gaza-native.
See our previous feature with Ashraf Amra: Who are the Women of Gaza.
“Photojournalism is very important because it carries a strong message that works to change reality from the worst to the best, convey people’s problems to the world, and play an important role in finding solutions to multiple crises.”
How did you get started with photojournalism?
I started my work in the profession of photojournalism 20 years ago, when I lived in the Deir al-Balah area, next to the Israeli barrier that separated the Gaza Strip into two parts. I was communicating with the old journalists when something happened near the checkpoint, and from here I met a number of those journalists who gave me a small camera to film the events next to the checkpoint.
What do you hope to achieve with your photos?
When I grew up, I became a journalist, working free-lance with many agencies and international newspapers, and I won a number of international and local awards in photojournalism. I have children and I have always always thought about how to protect them and provide for their needs.
My wish is that things will be in the best condition in the future. We, as freelance photographers, do not find anyone to support us if we are injured or suffer any losses because we do not belong to any particular means.
What are some of your favourite subjects?
I traveled to several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Lebanon, to cover many events there, including the Arab revolutions, the Hajj season, and the four wars that the Gaza Strip was exposed to.
One of the most important topics that I like to photograph is daily life, beautiful scenery in Gaza and the countries I visited, because I believe they are pictures that inspire a positive spirit for those who watch and meditate on them.
Why do you think photojournalism is important?
It is imperative that we continue our work in order to convey human suffering everywhere, especially in the Gaza Strip, which suffers from the scourge of repeated wars, siege and poverty. Our message is sublime and objective.
Photojournalism is very important because it carries a strong message that works to change reality from the worst to the best, convey people’s problems to the world, and play an important role in finding solutions to multiple crises.