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Matinee: Giles Duley Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

3 December 2016

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 164th in our series of Saturday matinees today: Giles Duley.

This portrait of photographer Gile Duley is part of Wex Photographic's More Than an Image project. We'll let Wex describe it:

Photographs are not just pictures -- photographs have made history, photographs have changed lives. Photography can be a lifeline, a unique way of communicating with the world and we wanted to further the conversation to reflect that, so we went in search of those stories. We looked for the photographers whose photographs meant something to them.

They found Giles Duley.

Duley was born in London in 1971. He spent 10 years as an editorial photographer in the fashion and music industries in both the U.S. and Europe. But he lost interest in those subjects.

Focusing his talent instead on civilians caught in conflict, he found himself in Afghanistan. While on patrol with the 75th Cavalry Regiment in 2011, he stepped on an improvised explosive device and lost both legs and an arm.

That did not stop him.

Duley now focuses his talent on humanitarian projects, working with Medecins Sans Frontiers, IOM and UNHCR to focus on lesser-known stories he finds deserving of both public attention and action.

'When I take somebody's photograph, it's not simply that I've just created an image. It's that I've got their story and I can help that story be heard by the world.'

In this 4:41 minute video, Duley tells his story.

"When I take somebody's photograph, it's not simply that I've just created an image," he says. "It's that I've got their story and I can help that story be heard by the world."

He started photographing musicians when he was just 18. And he loved it but as they years went by and he transitioned to fashion photography, he lost his bearings, sinking into depression.

As part of his recovery, he got a job as a caretaker of a young man who had autism. The family thought it would be helpful if Duley told the boy's story through his photographs.

For the first time, Duley says, he used his camera as an advocate for someone. It was a revelation that renewed his interest in photography. And that's what led him to Afghanistan. And the explosion that took his legs and arm.

As he lay there, he thought that would be it, "the moment that I just drifted off."

But then he realized he wasn't dead -- and he wasn't going to die either. He did an inventory of himself. He still had his eyes and one arm. He could still take photographs. "Photography is not what you do," he realized. "It's in your core. It's part of who you are."

He realized something else too. That he now had something unique to bring to the game. "I had gone through that same experience as the people I document." He could use his empathy to connect with his subjects.

Some people say, he says, you'll never change the world with a photograph. "And I agree. You can't," he adds. "But if I can just inspire one person that maybe can change the world...."

Then you've changed the world with a photograph.

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