Ed Kashi

photos: ©Ed Kashi / VII Photos

I thought long about how to justify this article for iHeartBerlin. But honestly, it just does not relate to Berlin… I just wanted to talk to Ed Kashi about Pakistan.

Ed Kashi is one of the most important photojournalists of our time. His pictures regularly appear in magazines such as National Geographic and have won numerous awards. This interview – which features a lot of his fantastic photographs – is about one of the most dangerous and fascinating countries on earth: Pakistan. More after the jump.

What do you think of first when you remember Pakistan?
Colorful, raw, tough, magical, challenging.

What is your relationship with Pakistan?
My relationship to Pakistan is purely as a journalist and observer. I began going there in 1994 and have now been there about 8 times. I’ve witnessed this country become more chaotic, violent and in a sense lose out on the progress that so much of the world has experienced in the past 17 years.

While there is still a vibrant, modern and smart class of people, mainly living in the big cities, there is a growing segment of the population that is becoming more ignorant, racist and mistrustful of the West.

What do you like about the country?
It’s a physically beautiful country, especially in the northern areas. The people are incredible looking and they are full of heart and a deep soul. The culture is old and fascinating, especially when allowed to separate itself from religion.

How was it like for you as an American to travel there?
In general it’s safe there. In the 1990’s it was very safe, but alas, today with the increase in terrorist activities, one has to be careful. Fortunately due to how I look, I don’t get noticed as much. There are certain areas of Pakistan, including Karachi, that are very dangerous these days.

How did people react to your camera?
A mixture of ease, fascination, joy and in some cases extreme negativity.

If you photograph people in countries like Pakistan: how do you manage to get so close to the people?
I get close to people because that’s what I do. It helps when I have a great fixer to work with, who can make people feel at ease by explaining who I am and what I’m doing. In general, I’m respectful and try to treat people with dignity and sensitivity.

What was it like to photograph in the madrassas (religious schools)?

Tough and tricky. My excellent fixer, who is a great journalist himself, said I was his Iraqi photographer. We tried to get into 6 and only succeeded at 2.

Hey, the young men in these places are not bad people. It’s the ideology they are being preached that’s the problem. And it’s a huge one. In the Punjab alone there are one million young men in these jihadi madrassas!

Do you do a lot of planning when you take pictures?

I research, plan, ask questions, find out for myself, react or regroup…it’s a constant state of flux, inquiry, revelation, mostly frustration and ultimately joy.

What are your plans for the future?
My next big trip is to Brazil to look at issues around Dutch colonialism and sugar.

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<a href="https://www.iheartberlin.de/author/jens/" target="_self">Jens</a>