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The Carletonian

Sebastian Meyer presents “Photography on the Edge”

<t many people know what it’s like to be a photojournalist, living “on the edge.” For most, photojournalism consists of using photography to tell a story, and for political photojournalists, the job description does not usually entail riding in an armored vehicle across uncivilized and dangerous ground. But for Carleton graduate Sebastian Meyer ’02, this is his life.

Meyer gave a talk in the Boliou Hall Auditorium entitled, “Photography on the Edge” last Wednesday, showing a collection of photos taken from his time spent in the Middle East, recording the recent conflicts in northern Iraq, and most recently, the civil war in Libya.

Meyer’s interest in photography began during his junior year study abroad program in Paris, where he met an American photographer who let him use her darkroom. In Paris, he was introduced to the Magnum photography company, and deemed it the “lightbulb moment in my head,” when he looked through a photojournalist book. Though a French major, Meyer did his comps on visual cinema, which got him interested in social issues in the world.

Upon graduating from Carleton, Meyers taught in South France for a year, then from 2003-2004 interned in New York City for Magnum. This internship was, for him, “auto-didactic,” and he began to teach himself how to be a good photographer. From 2004-2006, Meyer lived in the United Kingdom, and stayed in London until 2009, traveling back and forth to Pakistan, Moldova, and Ukraine as he worked for a London journalism company.

According to the Carleton Alumni website, his work has been published in TIME Magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Sunday Times Magazine, and The Guardian, among other esteemed publications. His work has been selected for the British Journal of Photography’s International Photography Award, the Foto8 Summershow, the Art of Photography Show, and has been displayed in galleries around the world.

After living in London, Meyer then made a bold move, and amidst heightened conflict, moved to Iraq in 2010, where he could record the conflict there in person. Yet, the pressing question most people will ask: why Iraq, in the height of a very volatile time?

Meyer described Iraq as an environment where adrenaline runs high. He has undergone several life-threatening experiences, including being hit while in an armored car by a group of suicide bombers. He described the adrenaline rush that accompanies the act of someone trying to “take your life, but escaping” as sort of addicting. Furthermore, “when you start to experience the full gamut of human emotion, a lot of the subtle pedestrian parts of human life disappears”.

At the same time, Meyer also insists that there is a “mentality of extremes” in an environment like northern Iraq. While the situation is dangerous, there is also an “extremity of hospitality and kindness” from the people. In being there, he saw both sides.

Overall, he is excited to return to Iraq this coming June. “I made some really great friends over there, and I can’t wait to see them again,” Meyer says. To check out more of his photography, go to:

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