089 - Alixandra Fazzina

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Alixandra Fazzina, whose photography focuses on under-reported conflicts and the often overlooked humanitarian consequences of war, has an uncanny ability to gain access to and work in the most challenging circumstances imaginable and is recognised for her compassionate and empathetic approach.

She was born in East London, where she is now based, but spent much of her childhood in the Netherlands because of her father's work. She studied fine art at the University of Bristol, and in 1995, the day after she finished her course, she went to Bosnia with the British armed forces as an official war artist and it was there that she developed her interest in photography.

Since then, she has worked independently as a photojournalist throughout Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Her stories have been widely published in the British and international press and her photographs exhibited worldwide.

In 2008, after working on assignment in Afghanistan, she moved to Pakistan, where she lived for six years. During that time, over a two year period, she worked to chronicle the exodus of migrants and refugees from Somalia, across the Gulf of Aden to the Arabian Peninsula. The resulting book A Million Shillings: Escape from Somalia was published by Trolley Books in 2010. A Million Shillings, the title of which comes from the fare paid by refugees to the traffickers (about 50 pounds sterling), was shortlisted for the Pictures of the Year International Best Photography Book of the Year Award. A selection of the works has been shortlisted for the Prix Pictet global award in photography and sustainability. In 2008 she was the recipient of the Vic Odden Award from the British Royal Photographic Society for her work in Somalia, and was a finalist in the CARE Award for Humanitarian Reportage and the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography.

In 2010 Alixandra won the highly prestigious UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award for her striking coverage of the devastating human consequences of war and her fearless and tireless dedication to humanitarian photography throughout her career. Having spent six years documenting the effects of conflict and displacement in Afghanistan and Pakistan, she produced the long-term project The Flowers of Afghanistan, documenting the stories of Afghan children seeking refuge in Europe. The photographic investigation looks into the causes and effects of the increasing number of Afghan minors making the hazardous overland journey to apply for asylum in EU member states.

In addition to her photography and writing, Alixandra has worked as researcher and producer for broadcast media and is regular contributor for radio and she regularly teaches masterclasses and workshops around the world for organisations such as World Press Photo, Reporters Without Borders and The Royal Photographic Society. She lectures in art, photography and media at photography and literature festivals and at on under and post graduate programmes at universities and is a member of the NOOR collective.

In episode 089, Alixandra discusses, among other things:

  • How her fine art background is relevant to photography
  • Growing up a tomboy with an interest in conflict
  • Learning the ropes in Bosnia as an official war artist
  • How as photographers we sometimes don’t really look properly
  • Being held captive in Liberia
  • Her knack for gaining access
  • People trafficking across the Gulf of Aden and her book A Million Shillings
  • Editing and the importance of the text
  • Yemen, Djibouti and the follow up project

Website (NOOR)

“By documenting the resilience of others, it gives me resilience.”

112 episodes available. A new episode about every 14 days averaging 76 mins duration .