Emily Garthwaite (photo opposite) , born thirty years ago in the United Kingdom, fell in love with Iraq to the point of settling and living there since 2017. “Coming to attend the Arbain pilgrimage, in Najaf, I was surprised to see this huge gathering take place most peacefully in the world, far from the clichés about the omnipresent violence in this country, she explains. I went back there and fell in love with Iraq, its history, its civilization, its very diverse populations.” Since then, she has rented a house in Iraqi Kurdistan and only returns to England during the holidays, to see her relatives. Despite the military defeat of the Islamic State group (or Daesh) in this northern region populated by Kurds, security is relative.
But it is above all the harshness of the local light that Emily faces daily. “Iraq is difficult to photograph because the sun rises and sets very quickly, generating very strong contrasts during the day,” she notes. But I deal with it! Fortunately, her participation in numerous ‘street photography’ workshops in the UK when she was younger prepared her to adapt to all situations and lighting difficulties*. Today, Emily increasingly focuses her Leica lenses on the visible evidence of global warming, which is affecting millions of Iraqis, both in the countryside and in the city. Winner in 2023 of the first edition of the Photo Terre solidaire prize, created by the CCFD-Terre solidaire, she is participating in the collective exhibition Photoclimat, place du Palais-Royal, in Paris, from September 14 to October 15. And, of course, at the Visa pour l’image festival in Perpignan (Pyrénées-Orientales), from September 2 to 17.
Find Emily Garthwaite’s universe on her website: emilygarthwaite.com