Framing Syrian Refugees, Lessons From Behind the Lens

Tasneem is Saudi Arabian by blood, born in the U.S. and was educated in England. She ventured into photography, specifically wedding photography, in Saudi, to document the traditions and cultures that were celebrated, but now uses her storytelling experience to document topics focused on human rights, specifically gender and social issues in Saudi. She has been selected by British Journal Photography as one of the best 16 emerging photographers to watch and is a member of Rawiya, the first all-female photography collective from the Middle East, Tasneem has also covered stories for National Geographic, Vogue Italia, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times Lens Blog.

Tasneem Al-Sultan jumped at the unplanned and unexpected opportunity to visit Lebanon with her friend Hala Al-Salhi, Co-Director of Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai.

 

She arrived in Beirut, and they drove for two-three hours to Akkar, a small town nestled between mountains near the border with Syria. The incomparable heat not hindering her enjoyment of the scenic views.

 

Malaak, a small non-profit organization started by Lebanese/Syrian Asma Rasmany, was their final destination, where 300 Syrian refugee children are being taught teaching, reading, writing, music, and art. The children are not allowed to attend regular Lebanese schools.

 

Tasneem and Hala were there to teach visual storytelling through digital photography; including framing, moments, emotion, color, and expression through photography.

 

The children would have the basic tools to share with the world what they and their families are going through, instead of foreign media speaking on their behalf.

 

After a few days, the children insisted Tasneem and Hala visit their families; cheerfully offering them food and shelter in their humble homes.


“I learned many things from this trip but mostly, it was the appreciation of safety that we take for granted. I leave you with the images of the memorable experience,” – Tasneem said.




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