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Uncertain Journeys, Lesbos, Greece, 2015

Uncertain Journeys, Lesbos, Greece, 2015


from the photographer... "I felt conflicted about photographing the refugees as they arrived in Greece. I had dozens of colleagues on the beach, and the images that were emerging were largely traumatic and, I argue, alienating to viewers.

As the initial wave of boats approached on my first morning I started taking pictures, though I had to pause and pull back as refugees streamed onto the rocky shore. Some of them wailed, frightened by the journey, though many smiled and laughed, and accepted hugs from volunteers on the beach. I found myself crying, absolutely overwhelmed by the strength of their spirit and courage.
It was a little while later that I watched as volunteer Kadoni Kinan, himself a Syrian refugee that has been living in Belgium for five years, rushed into the frigid waters and pulled this young Syrian boy from an arriving boat. As he reached into the dingy, Kinan said he was moved by the child's smile.
"It was there that I found my soul." Kinan said later.

Ashley Gilbertson is an Australian photographer living in New York City, and a member of the VII Photo Agency. Gilbertson’s early work focused on refugees around the world, an interest that in 2002, led him to Iraq. His work from that country, made largely on contract for The New York Times, earned critical acclaim from, among others, the Overseas Press Club which awarded Gilbertson the  Robert Capa Gold Medal for his 2004 work in Falluja. Gilberton’s first book, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, released in 2007 to critical acclaim, went on to become a best seller.

After Iraq, Gilbertson shifted his focus to the home front where he specialized in veterans issues, working on stories that drew attention to post traumatic stress disorder, suicide, and traumatic brain injuries. Gilbertson’s second book, Bedrooms Of The Fallen, a collection of photographs depicting the intact bedrooms of service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, was released in 2014. That work was published in The New York Times Magazine, and received a prestigious Ellie award, regarded as the Pulitzer Prize of the magazine world.

Today, Gilbertson is widely recognized for his critical eye and his unique, experimental approaches to issues that are often well covered by other media. Gilbertson continues to focus on war related issues; refugees as well as other social issues that he is passionate about. In addition to working as an photographer, Ashley works on multi media films (which earned him a Emmy nomination in 2013), group projects with his colleagues at VII Photo, and frequently lectures at universities and museums globally. His work is included in the permanent collections of notable museums around the world.

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