I focus on humanity’s resilience to the issues that define our time. Gender, the environment, and Indigenous movements are the themes through which I explore resilience.
Throughout my career I have continued to evolve as a documentarian, exploring underreported narratives in complex situations and environments -- from Pakistan’s Pashtun feminists to North America’s Indigenous land defenders -- my work seeks to amplify voices of underrepresented communities, revealing the intimate and connected side of humanity.
While I’ve spent many years abroad, part of my growth as a storyteller is recognizing critical stories in my own backyard. In 2017, I began working with Indigenous women and elders in North America on the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG). Through this collaborative process, I make portraits and evidential landscapes through a trauma informed approach, which often involves ceremony, several sessions, and long interviews. Titled Nobody Listened, this ongoing work was awarded a National Magazine Award and received support from Magnum Foundation, the Pulitzer Center and the International Reporting Project.
With environmental issues ever-present, for over two years I've pursued work with National Geographic Magazine documenting plastic along the Ganges River, focusing particularly on fishing communities and their relationship with plastic fishing nets.
Describe the context/situations in which the candidate works.
Working mainly across South Asia and North America, my primary focus is on environmental and gender issues. The context of these stories are in village settings, tribal/border areas, and informal settlements. Documenting the impacts of plastic along the Ganges River, I’ve traveled from Bangladesh to India along the length of the waterway.
My work on Indigenous issues spans North America. I was recently awarded a grant from National Geographic Society to explore a COVID outbreak in remote Northern Saskatchewan. I’ve also reported around the Keystone XL pipeline in Montana with support from Magnum Foundation. With this work, I am primarily working on Native land, in rural settings, and around large oil reserves. I attend ceremonies and sweats, work with tribal leaders, and spend time with families at their homes.
How do the photographs submitted with this nomination capture the scope of the candidate’s work?
I am committed to amplifying voices of resilience and strength in some of the most underreported and underrepresented locations. The selection enclosed here is a collection of images from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, the US, and Canada reflecting my photographic direction and dedication to sharing stories of urgency, yet hope.
How do the candidate’s career and work reflect the values of Anja Niedringhaus through compassion, humanity, and a commitment to capturing the whole picture?
I cannot suggest that my work compares to Anja Niedringhaus, but as a human being and photographer, I am rooted in compassion, dignity, and respect. The stories I photograph often involve people living within volatile and harsh circumstances. While this reality is important to tell, depictions of violence, destruction and poverty are entrenched in our traditional media landscape. I do not propose to tell the whole picture, it is impossible to be a documentarian without choosing where and how I stand. But the picture I hope to tell is one of human connection, hope, and people resisting the limits that have been carved out for them.This, in my opinion, is what Anja Niedringhaus embodied through her life's work.