That man is Giles Duley - photographer. Giles's story is remarkable and well documented but until just over a year ago, I was unfamiliar with his work or his history. It was my privilege to spend a weekend in the company of Giles with three other photographers. Briefly, in Afghanistan working as a war photographer Giles was embedded with a platoon of American soldiers. He stepped on an explosive device and what you see in the photograph is the consequence. What cannot be fully imagined, is the courage, willpower, determination to survive and all the other attributes of human endurance.
Our workshop was designed to help us prepare photographic projects and consisted, firstly of Giles's account of six months living with drug addicts in Ukraine and other work in Africa, and secondly, to demonstrate the methodology we should employ. After a morning's discussion, it was time to start our own much tamer, mini-project. One of the group chose to document fans at a Chelsea football match, another chose to mirror mannequins in shop windows with real people, another chose to photograph people photographing. My first idea was completely unworkable and required a quick switch, I chose to photograph as many men with beards on the King's Road, Chelsea, as I could find.
Beards are in, and a couple of hours later I had found them from nearly twenty countries ranging from the thin and fluffy to the big and hairy. From Norway, working down Europe to North Africa and east to Sri Lanka. Some of the results can be seen below.
Two days after our workshop, Giles was due to travel to Sri Lanka as part of his ongoing project to record the consequences of the civil war on the island and other post-conflict areas. An internet search will reveal more about this truly extraordinary man, his wonderful photography and intellectual breadth. I thoroughly recommend that you investigate further but do not miss http://100portraitsbeforeidie.co.uk
Giles sustained his terrible injuries because he was a photographer, paradoxically; he survived because he is just that.