Photojournalist and Photography Studies College graduate Darrian Traynor spent the last three years in Gaza, Jordan and Lebanon documenting the lives of displaced post war communities. His latest exhibition 'Occupation Displacement' tells the stories of people who have fallen between the cracks. Darrian talks about his work, why being a photojournalist is never just a job and how Photography Studies College's mentor program was his window into the industry.
Your series 'Occupation Displacement' currently being exhibited at SUNSTUDIOS gives us a rare insight into the daily lives of people affected by war, what is the underlying message that you want viewers to take home from this?
Humanity contains all manner of race, religion, ethnicity, skin colour and languages. As humans we so often use these factors to separate, segregate and discriminate. My work is intended to show that at the very core humans around the world have more in common than is often realised. The people I meet have hopes and dreams that are exactly the same as anyone else. They want to feel safe. They are resourceful hard working people with strong family values. They are us.
Why did you feel compelled to focus on displaced communities in the Middle East?
I find the policies of the major political parties in Australia with regard to refugees and asylum seekers embarrassing. The culture of fear they pedal is having a strong influence on the Australian public. I want my work to cut through the fear and show these people for who they are.
How did the idea for 'Occupation Displacement' come about?
After travelling to Israel, The West Bank and Gaza in 2016 to meet the people and tell their stories the project idea started to formulate in my mind. The displacement of Syrian people by war/conflict was the next step in what was becoming a much larger body of work.
What have you learned from the people you have photographed?
The people I have had the great fortune to meet are incredible. They possess a level of resilience I can barely comprehend. They are generous and kind and have a dignity that is extremely powerful. You can see that in the portraits.
What was the biggest challenge for you when creating this work?
There are many challenges in this type of work. Finding the right fixer is crucial to facilitate meetings and introductions, translate, drive and gain any necessary permits. The work was all self funded and is expensive to produce and not profitable. With all that said I think the biggest challenge is when I return home. Adjusting back to normal life is hard.
What did you study at Photography Studies College and how has it helped you with your career as a photojournalist?
I studied photojournalism at Photography Studies College and immediately recognised the importance of the mentor program and assignments. Some people may have taken the view that it was just another assignment. I took the view that this was my window into the industry. My Mentor from those days is now one of my very good friends.
You have to have passion for the work. It can never be just a job. You find ways to make an income in the industry photographing all sorts of things for all sorts of clients but this type of work has to come from your heart. You have to want to say something.
Do you think it's important to get a photography degree?
The photography industry like all areas of the media is under constant change. The one thing that is becoming clear is the need for a higher level of schooling. The level of professionalism in the industry is demanding that people are held to a higher standard. A tertiary qualification is viewed highly by editors these days. For these reasons I would recommend studying at Photography Studies College.