When the Gaza War started in the last days of 2008, Eman Mohammed was 19. At 26, she’s now not only Gaza’s first female photojournalist, but also one of its most riveting image-makers. Here she shares some turning points along her way.
You’ve faced so much adversity: what keeps you going in this vocation?
What keeps me going is mainly the importance of what’s going on. Whenever you feel so strongly about this kind of cause, it’s reflected in your images. And once they’re out and people give you feedback, it gives you great motivation to keep going, because they connect with photos more than with the news. It’s no longer news, it’s emotion, and in the long run it can change how people think about the third world and about these conflicts—and may inspire you to do something about it, to walk a mile in other people’s shoes.
Has your work been evolving towards more life-affirming stories?
Because war happens constantly in Gaza, the media became overloaded with miserable stories coming out of here–and the thing is, it’s not always miserable. So I wanted to show something that we all have in common.
Has becoming a mother changed how you see?
It doesn’t change you, it adds to you. It gives you more tenderness in the way you see news and people, and more emotional awareness. You become more sensitive to some things, like if you see a mother crying over her baby you immediately shift into her body and live her experience. It’s not that you try to imagine it; you don’t have to imagine because you’re already there.
What would you say to a young woman starting out in your field now?
I would tell any young woman who wanted to set foot in such a field that she should definitely trust that she has the right to be there, because I struggled with that a lot. Too many people are going to tell you that you’re not welcome, and it affects how you think about your work. But you do have the right to be there because of your career and motivation and message, and whatever comes genuinely from your heart.
For more information – www.emanmohammed.com/