Andrea Bruce shares photography
Photojournalist Andrea Bruce came to the Hill to share her experience covering wars and conflict in the Middle East in a talk promoted by the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement on Feb. 21.
Bruce, an Elijah Parish Lovejoy Visiting Fellow in Journalism, traveled from Afghanistan to speak at the College. She last visited the College in 2007 when she sat on a panel of visiting journalists as part of a Lovejoy Journalism Award Ceremony.
Bruce said she initially became interested in photography because, she “like[s] the small moments in people’s lives that people often overlook.”
After graduating from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Bruce began her career as a photojournalist by working at the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire for five years. From there, she went on to work for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, then The Washington Post and also served as the White House photographer of the year four times.
The Washington Post sent Bruce to cover the war in Iraq in 2003, which was her first experience covering war. “After 3 months, [I knew] this is what I was supposed to do,” she said.
While working for The Washington Post, in addition to her photos that were published in the paper, Bruce ran the blog “Unseen Iraq” that showed photos from day-to-day life in Iraq. Bruce said, “I realized that there is a huge disconnect between people in the U.S. and Iraqis.” She said that not until people in the U.S. understand will they begin to care.
During the night’s presentation, Bruce explained that she does not feel that, as a women, she sees the world differently than men, but that her experience in the Middle East has made her “feel like it is my responsibility to give [these] women a voice.”
Bruce showed a portrait series of women in Iraq, including a series on the Daughters of Iraq, women whose jobs are to search other women for suicide bombs, a series on prostitution in Iraq and female circumcision in Kurdistan. Following the publication of her photos of female circumcision of young women in The Washington Post, wives of prominent politicians in Kurdistan succeeded to make female circumcision illegal.
Along with her work in Iraq, Bruce has worked in Bahrain, Afghanistan and among other places, devoting her career to making people’s stories heard through photography, something that has not always been an easy feat.
Bruce has photographed in what she called, “probably the most dangerous place in the world right now,” Ingushetia. She has survived several road-side bombs, much criticism over her photos and had been physically attacked during her career. “It can be scary, but that’s what happens,” she said.
Bruce said that surviving situations when you are with protesters creates an incredible bond, and as a result she has kept in contact with several people she has met on the job. When they contact her, asking her to come and cover their stories, she said, “It’s really heartbreaking to e-mail back to protesters, ‘no, [I can’t come], The New York Times doesn’t think your story is important.”
Bruce is currently based in Afghanistan working as a freelance photojournalist.