Filmed March 2012 at TEDxObserver
Photographer Giles Duley launches his new book I can only tell you what my eyes see in London this week. The book includes images from Duley’s 2015-2016 travel, documenting the refugee crisis across the Middle East and Europe.
February 2011, Giles Duley stepped on a landmine in Afghanistan and became a triple amputee as a result of the severe injuries. In the 2012 TED Talk “When a Reporter Becomes the Story”, he spoke of his experience as a photojournalist, and a casualty of war:
…I realized [after the accident] I never set out to Congo, to Angola, to Bangladesh to take photographs. I went to those places because I wanted to make some kind of change, and photography happened to be my tool.
Last year, Duley returned to TED to talk about the power of stories.
His camera was drawn to the most vulnerable, single mothers, people with disabilities, and the elderly. He highlighted particularly the story of a Syrian woman named Khalood, who was shot in the spine in her own garden while growing vegetables. She was since paralyzed from the neck down, and her husband became her full-time caregiver as they moved to Lebanon and received informal settlement in the Beqaa Valley (eastern Lebanon, about 60 miles from Damascus).
Duley met Khalood in 2014. When he returned to Lebanon in 2016, he was shocked to find her family still in the same makeshift tent in the Beqaa Valley: “I thought of all the people I’ve met two years before, she was the most vulnerable and the most in need. I couldn’t believe that she could be living in the same tent” (2016).
Over the next few days, Duley said he had never worked so hard as a photographer, to tell Khalood’s story. It was his mission to tell people’s stories through photography, to make some kind of change.
We are facing a global crisis. The refugee crisis affects all of us. It is a global crisis that needs a global solution. I believe we are at a crossroad in how we choose to treat and deal with the refugee crisis. I also think it’s a moment in the history of our humanity in how we deal with it. […]
I am a storyteller, but stories have no power if people do not listen to them. So I want to thank you all to listen to these stories today. Together, we have made those stories concrete. But it’s now time to take action from that strong base that we have built. Because we must take action, and now is the time to act. I honestly believe, all together, we can make a difference.
–Giles Duley 2016
I can only tell you what my eyes see is a collection of these stories. All the book’s profits are donated to UNHCR-The UN Refugee Agency. Visit the UNHCR news here, and see more of Giles Duley’s works here. His personal project Legacy of War is “A five-year photographic project exploring the long-term effects of conflict globally.”