was born in France early in 1979, from a Spanish mother and a Russian father. I lived in Paris until the day I decided to leave the old continent to join my father in the United States. I have been living in the New York, since July 1993, and went to the French high school and then at University of Chicago, which I graduated from in June 2003 with a medieval history major.
My photography career started oddly in 1996 when I decided to photograph ancient Roman sites all around the Mediterranean Sea, and traveled every summer and winter to various sites in Europe, North Africa and the mid East. When I went to college in the fall of 1998, and my swimming career went to hell, I decided to go further to perfect this craft by shooting for various Chicago newspaper, including the UofC Maroon, the Reader and Street Wise. Finding this work boring and below my expectations, I decided to push myself to more risky endeavors. I started photographing international events in the summer 2000 in Panama (the country where I picked up surfing) shooting civil unrest. From that period on, I have been more and more drawn into this career, covering stories, in the US, Western Europe, Chiapas, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Congo, Ivory Coast, Syria, Lebanon, Georgia, Nepal, and Ethiopia.
In the past three years I have been concentrating on conflict around the world, more specifically on the South Caucasus and East Africa. However, my first experience as a photojournalist was in the South Caucasus in April 2001 when I worked on my first major photo essay region for the first. I traveled to Armenia and worked on a project about Ex. Soviet heavy industrial cities in Armenia, and the consequences on the locals who once lived with the rhythm of these machines. I returned to the Caucasus in the spring 2004 with a more concrete work in mind. I wanted to photograph the ethnic problems in the South Caucasus, through war and various social tensions. I covered the war in Karabakh for one month in may 2004, while photographing the life of locals Karabastis. I returned to the Caucasus in September 2004, but this time in Georgia to cover the war in South Ossetia. After seen some firefights, I decided to enter the Pankisi gorge to live and photograph Chechen refugees living there. In February/March 2005 I covered the war in Nepal, working with the Maoist rebels, then with the Royal Nepalese army. I worked there again in the fall 2005 covering the war with the Maoist, as well as working on a human trafficking story. After also covering the war in Congo and Ivory Coast in 2004, I decided it was time again to concentrate on one specific country. Ethiopia, with its recurrent military unrest was my next choice. I managed to link up with Oromo rebels in early 2006. I covered the conflict with the OLF for one month in Southern Ethiopia, and with the ONLF in October of the same year. I will be going to Nigeria and cover the conflict there with the MEND rebels.
I today work for both Getty images, and thereportage.com. I also contributed to Glamour in France and Spain, American Photo, Aftenposten (in Norway). As well as a dozen Western European magazines.
After covering 7 conflict zones in less than three years, I have found myself conflicted in what to do next with my career, and of course my life. Looking back on these three years, and the amount of work done, with its successes and failures, Iíve realized that this was my life and could not prosper as human being and a professional without pushing further the envelop. If photography in the context of war was going to be my life, I was to do some sacrifices in my personal life, which in turn would make me suffer and perhaps my close friends and family. However this is the discipline.
Being a witness was also the other difficult barrier to cross. Most photojournalist will tell you that it is almost impossible to remain impassive towards human suffering and its consequences. Over time, I have tried to detach myself from all that I have seen and experienced, and I have been successful only in the sense that Iíve gotten involved in two occasions. Most professionals in the business will also tell you that it is wrong, and a journalist should always stay neutral. He should, of course, but only when it comes to his work, while I believe it is possible to help a cause in which you believe as well and contribute. For this particular write up, I will not state my experience when it comes to this, however it is perhaps safe to say that a new breed of photojournalist is born.
The new comers have evolved with their time. In fact the world sees the media in a different role, a much more negative and over present force which tends to exaggerate events to increase sells, or ignore crucial events who in times will have consequences on our lives. The photojournalist cannot lie, what he sees, he photographs, later to bring it back to his world to be shown and appreciated. Times have changed. In fact probably not for the better. Journalist are often targets and may do get killed on the field. Journalists can be seen as a nuisance. On the other hand, armies, political groups, and rebels all have understood the power of the press, and can use it to their own advantage.
In a world where compromise is the best way to make headway in the political and military spheres. The same is true for journalists who try to enter specific groups to make their work. I personal had to make such compromise in order to be able to do my work. These compromises have also allowed me to keep serious and long-term relationships with the Oromo rebels, the Georgian, French, Nagorno-Karabakh, Maoists armies and political cadre. For me this relationships are for the long run, as I like to concentrate on one specific country for a while to fully understand its structure and its conflict if there is one. I believe that the true sense of a journalist is to fully understand one region to eventually become an expert.
Most journalism is short breath and rarely in depth, covering an event too much for a few weeks, giving headaches to its readers and viewers, only to leave it all together soon after. A certain degree of restrain is I think necessary, but TV has done nothing but practice overkill on events and catastrophic happenings on its viewers who usually get sick of it quickly and change the channel.