Ron Haviv — On Why Refugees Are Our Common Concern
“I focused on their eyes. It feels as each person in the frame is looking at what is next in a very different way”, — Ron Haviv photographed the refugees who just came off the boat after many days of travel.
Ron Haviv, a famous war photographer, started reporting from conflicts in 1980s, and his career went up during the Balkan wars. His photographs from the Balkans were seen all over the world and were later used in Hague to prove crimes against civilians (Haviv is one of the few photographers who could capture Serb Volunteer Guard, the so called Arkan’s Tigers; many know a photograph from this series, where a Serbian soldier kicks the body of a civilian).
Ron Haviv continues to work in hot spots all over the world: Sri Lankan Civil War, drug wars in Mexico, armed conflict in South Ossetia, and the gang wars in Los Angeles. Bird In Flight published the photos from Ron Haviv’s latest series, taken on Lesbos island, a transit point for the refugees on the way from Middle East to Europe.
American photographer, lives in New York City. Has worked in more than 25 conflict zones all over the world, visited more than 100 countries. One of the founders of VII Photo Agency. Was nominated for News and Documentary Emmy Award, winner of World Press Photo, International Motion Art Awards, Leica Medal of Excellence and many other awards. Published his works in Business Week, Le Monde, Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Paris Match, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Time.
Throughout my life as a photographer I have felt it necessary to help shine a light on those without a voice. While there has been a lot of media coverage of this current crisis, I find that there can never be an over abundance of stories. As media coverage changes over time it is always important that we are documenting the world around us. I hope that my project, Exodus, also contributes to this process.
Everyone that wants to be seen and have their story told should have that opportunity.
The world is a very small place. We should all realize at this point that we are all connected. What happens in Syria can affect New York. What happens in London can have an effect in Darfur. Sometimes it’s not as obvious as it should be. But I hope that the work that I do can remind people of our responsibility to each other.
While working on exodus, I also created a short film to show the voice of the teenagers that have made this journey. The work was done to be used by Generation Human Rights. They are an NGO that creates human rights education curriculum for schools in the United States.
On the Most Significant Photographs
The really important image for me in this series, photographed at night, of the refugees coming off the boat. I focused on their eyes. It feels as each person in the frame is looking at what is next in a very different way. None of them have any idea of the future and yet they are all moving forward hoping for something better.
There were many moments that will remain with me. Seeing people come off the boats, some after months of travel, with nothing but a phone and some cash was
awe inspiring. So many of them were elated to have arrived at this point and were thankful and hopeful for what was next.
There was one young Iraqi boy who had fled with his family. His spirit was so positive and he was so thankful to the world for letting him make this journey. Within moments of landing, he took out a selfie stick and started to photograph himself and his family as they made their way off the beach. He spoke very good English and said all he wanted was “just peace”.