Ramsterdam!

Long time no blog! It’s been a flat-chat ten days (has it really been ten days?) since I last wrote here. It’s now the end of my third week here and time has really flown by – a lot and at the same time not much seems to be happening each day. Some days I seem to just wait for emails and phone calls from contacts, editing rushes of the photos and video footage I’m building up, other days I leave my room early in the morning and return late with cards and rolls of film full. The work here has really picked up pace. As of a week ago I’ve gone from having no willing subjects in sight to having more contact with refugees than I know what to do with … too many subjects = confusing doco! It’s great, actually, to have so many people willing to tell their stories come out of the woodwork. Now to narrow them down to just a few.

Having been on the ground a few weeks now I’m getting my head around how huge and complex this story is. The work’s coming together, but as with any doco work it’s changing as I encounter reality – so much that comes up I had no idea about while researching the idea in Sydney… so while I came here looking for an apple it seems I might bring home an orange. An Iraqi friend – Muna –  who now lives here in Amman has been helping me out a lot, basically becoming my default fixer – translating, lining up interviews with refugees, seeking out people who want to talk and be photographed. No doubt, without her help and some strokes of luck I’d be in a real bind! In one day last week we met an entire street of Iraqis only ten minutes walk from here, being dragged from house to house full of families with incredible stories. Since then, I’ve been returning to this street every day or so, interviewing at length and photographing. with people who are being very generous with opening up their lives to be photographed. Having interviewed most of these people at length now, I’ll keep photographing with them for the next whee while to fill out the work. 

Ramadan has started today, the month where muslims fast from dawn till dusk. No food, water, cigarettes or alcohol for the entire month. A few of the other travelers here are fasting, and even though I should start today if I were fasting I still haven’t decided whether I’ll go for it. I’ve essentially been doing most of the fast here anyway, it’s so hot during the day that I eat in the morning and head out for some food in the cool of the evening as is but not drinking water in the heat, I dunno! Maybe a half fast… 

In other news I’ve been offered a job, of sorts! As of Febraury 2010 I’ll be living in Amsterdam for four months, doing an internship with the Noor Photo Agency. At Noor I’ll be doing the usual intern thing of archiving work, retouching and editing but also working with the agency to expand and improve their multimedia work. Sweet! So after getting back to Oz some time in late October it’ll be a quick summer then off again…

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About edgiles

Ed Giles is an award-winning Australian multimedia journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Formerly based in Cairo, Egypt, Ed works with photography, video and multimedia production methods to explore in depth, human stories. In 2011, Ed was awarded a Walkley Award for Online Journalism, Australian's highest honour in the trade, for work with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Online Investigations Unit. In 2013, he was nominated for a second Walkley award, the Nikon-Walkley Award for Feature Photography, for work covering the overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected President, Mohammed Morsi, for Getty Images. Ed has also received the Australian Council of Deans of Education Award for Emerging Journalists in 2011, and a United Nations Media Peace Prize for Online Reporting in 2010. Ed has worked in Iran, Israel/Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Greenland, Burma, Nepal, the Caribbean Islands and French Polynesia, among other corners of the world. His work has been published and distributed by The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Independent (UK), Getty Images, Reuters Editor's Choice, ABC 7.30 Report, ABC Lateline, ABC News 24 and ABC News Online, The Age, The Herald Sun and The Jakarta Post. Ed’s photographic work is represented by Getty Images.

4 comments

  1. Wes

    That’s great that the work is coming along mate. Looks really good….congrats on the job in the ‘dam.
    Wes

  2. Looking really promising Ed. How are the interviews? Are you getting real-time translation from your friend while they’re happening? Or has your Arabic ability exponentially increased by immersion!? Excellent news about Amsterdam – we shall have a fab summer before you leave!

    • Thanks guys! Pretty excited, I’d go to the Dam tomorrow if I could! Interviews are going well, although it’s pretty stilted doing interviews via a translator – I ask a question (or more than one), they get translated, the subject answers, this gets translated back to me. I can kind of understand what people are saying (to a point) but can’t speak very well and certainly not well enough to interview so my translators are invaluable. In other news I’m canning the Burma part of this trip, instead I’m going to do some Arabic study in Cairo seeing as I’m in this part of the world…

      Jess, Clay tells me you guys have a kick arse balcony… I’m there for morning coffee at the end of October! Wes, I’ll try to get down to Melbourne to hang out before heading off in late Jan. I’m in Aqaba at the moment and was having flashbacks to that bus ride with the kids with the phones from last November on the way down yesterday… too funny! See you guys soon.

  3. Warwick Giles

    Hi Ed
    Enjoying the blog.
    How did the Red Sea trip go, any diving?

    Regards Dad

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