true colours – francesco zizola

When the idea of NOOR began to dawn within the minds of some photographers seven years ago, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were breaking out after the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York. Images of killed or wounded American soldiers were banned from the American press and an impressionistic representation of the war began to take hold. Out of focus or blurred pictures, sharp silhouettes, or highly contrasted but elusive black and white images were the fashion in documentary photography as it was seen in popular magazines at the time. The photographer’s vision then suited magazines as much as art galleries. Photojournalists didn’t take the risk of showing too much pain and aestheticism was applied as an anesthetic to their pictures. Such was the state of documentary photography when I was approached with the offer to become part of a new group of photojournalists. Their manifesto focused on the importance of committed visual storytelling, in-depth investigation and long-term projects. Without being specifically defined, such commitment was an ethical attitude towards human society in general. And it was political too, since it promoted the exposure of injustices and the defense of fundamental human rights. Another crucial aspect of the manifesto was the central role of information, which was not to be sacrificed on the altar of profit. I’ve spent the last five years as a member of this group. I have worked actively as a photographer, each and every day, trying to bring a little light to a world that may seem more connected than ever, but where the lives of entire communities or single individuals are often overshadowed and left in isolation. “Photography could be that little light that could modestly help us change things,” Eugene Smith once said. NOOR means light in Arabic. Every day, picture by picture, we try to keep this light burning. – Francesco Zizola

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