If you’re reading this, there’s a pretty good chance that you love photography – either taking pictures or looking at other peoples. And you’ll almost certainly know that you’re in good company. But when does love become passion and how does passion become a way of life? Especially if you might think that the odds are stacked against you? Canon Ambassador Muhammed Muheisen knows. A two-time Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist, he is famous for his powerful, beautiful – and often heartbreaking – images.
A Jordanian national, growing up in Jerusalem during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Muhammed knows what it means to dream big, to have ambition. To want more. “I wanted to travel the world,” he recalls. “And show the world what is happening around it.” And so, he did. In the process, he and his camera bore witness to horror, tragedy, devastation… and humanity. It is this humanity that led him to spend 15 years documenting the global refugee crisis and set up the now famous Everyday Refugees Foundation and Instagram account, where his images of the daily lives of refugees remind us that we have far more in common than that which divides us.
With this in mind, Muhammed wasn’t just the obvious person to bring Canon’s Young People Programme to Jordan, he was the perfect one. He used his connections with organisations in the region to seek out young people with a passion for photography, who have the same drive and ambition as he had as a child. “I was recommended students and asked them for motivation letters. I went through each one, word by word, visualising the person behind them.” In the end, he selected 30 young people: a mixture of Jordanian nationals and youngsters from Zaatari and Azraq camps, which were built for refugees from the war in Syria and are now home to over 100,000 displaced people and their children.