At the tender age of eleven, I picked up my first camera in 1997, amid the brutal war that ravaged Kosovo. Little did I know that this simple act would be the beginning of a lifelong journey that would take me to the frontlines of some of the world’s most devastating conflicts.
As I grew older, I witnessed firsthand the horrors of war and the atrocities committed against ethnic Albanians by the Serbian armed forces of Yugoslavia in Kosovo. It was a time of unspeakable violence and suffering, but it was also a time that gave me the opportunity and privilege to document history in the making.
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of taking on numerous professional conflict reporting assignments. From covering the tumultuous events of the Middle East and North Africa in 2007 to documenting political unrest in Europe and armed conflicts in the Caucasus, my camera has taken me to some of the world’s most dangerous and unpredictable places.
But it was my experience in Ukraine that left the deepest impression on me. I had the honour of hearing the devastating testimonies of three women who had been lined up for execution by Russian armed personnel in the region of the capital Kyiv. Their stories were harrowing, and their bravery in the face of such unspeakable violence was truly awe-inspiring.
Becoming a war photographer is not for the faint of heart. It requires a certain level of courage and resilience that is difficult to explain to those who have not experienced it firsthand. It means being willing to put yourself in harm’s way to document the stories that need to be told, to shine a light on the atrocities that would otherwise go unseen.
But with this privilege comes a great responsibility. As a war photographer, I am tasked with telling the stories of those who cannot tell their own, of bearing witness to the darkest moments of human history. It is a responsibility that weighs heavily on me, but it is also one that fills me with a sense of purpose and a deep sense of gratitude for the opportunities I’ve been given.
As I continue on this journey, I am constantly reminded of the courage and resilience of the human spirit. And while the horrors of war can never be fully captured by a single photograph, I remain committed to using my camera to document the stories that need to be told.
But with each passing day, I am also reminded of the frustrations and questions that come with this work. How do we ensure that these stories are heard? How do we use our platforms to effect change? How do we reconcile the need for journalistic integrity with the human desire to intervene and make a difference?
These are complex questions that do not have easy answers. But as a war photographer, I am committed to grappling with them, to using my work to spark important conversations and effect positive change. And I hope that, through my photographs, I can continue to shed light on the darkest corners of human history, inspiring compassion, empathy, and action in those who view them.