Personal Project: Joey L

- - Personal Project

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Joey L

Overview: WE CAME FROM FIRE: Portraits of Kurdistan’s Armed Struggle Against ISIS

The ancient Kurdish homeland is partitioned between modern-day Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Oppression by state powers led Kurds to embrace armed struggle, yet failed to produce a lasting resolution. As the new war against ISIS dismantle nation-state borders, the once persecuted have risen to secure the power vacuum.

 Artist Statement:

WE CAME FROM FIRE: Portraits of Kurdistan’s Armed Struggle Against ISIS is an independent and self-funded portrait photography series that transformed into a book project. It observes a controversial ideological guerrilla movement that has manifested itself into a sophisticated army in response to a crisis threatening the existence of an ethnic minority.

After a ruthless and exhausting 6 years of war in Syria, only the most ideologically strong militias have flourished, absorbing various fragmented factions and uniting them under strict philosophies. The statistics flooding our daily news cycles rarely capture the mental convictions that can turn the tide of war, often surprising analysts with years of experience observing from afar.

When one crosses into the North East of war-torn Syria, and is catapulted into a worldview crafted by the Kurdish guerrilla. Conversations often drift to conspiracy theories. It seems ISIS is just the beginning of a long list of culprits plotting to destroy the Kurdish identity. Oddly, the conspiracies begin to make sense. The militia’s secretive hierarchy vanishes due to its compartmentalization, and you find yourself among individuals who left their families with the intention of defending their culture and way of life.
I have never felt comfortable calling myself a “war photographer.” In the past, I have photographed projects highlighting the plight of minority groups, but never in a war environment. When finally approaching a project on the Kurds, despite my lack of experience in a war zone, it became necessary to focus on their fighters—the armed defenders of a language and distinct cultural practices outlawed by every state the Kurds live.

Portrait photography is an external medium that can remind us of our shared humanity, but it is also the best device for the nearly impossible goal of depicting the inner ideology which has fueled the Kurdish movement to rise to such a position of power.

To see more of this project, click here.

Purchase the book in pre-order:


The full film can be viewed for free here:

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s. After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

Suzanne Sease

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