Every Wartime Snapshot is Also a Family Photo

Photo by Staton Winter.

Today, more than twenty years after my parents and I left Bosnia, there are still refugees in the world—hundreds of thousands of them, in fact. The current refugee crisis, fuelled by wars in Syria and across the Middle East, has been immortalized by photos of families just like mine: men, women and children sitting in bus stations waiting for food, trapped behind border fences and holing up in dilapidated refugee camps. Every day, countless times a day, photographers will walk up to a family and take their picture. This picture may then be posted on Facebook and printed in newspapers, or flashed across television screens. These images of suffering are used to prompt or prevent political action, to inspire pathos or anger, to inform and entertain. But these aren’t just documents of historical events, they are family photographs, each containing memories. I couldn’t help but wonder what other refugees see when they look at themselves staring back.

At Maisonneuve, Seila Rizvic reflects on contacting Staton Winter 20 years after he photographed her at age two, along with her parents as Bosnian refugees.

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