What inspired you to start a career covering war, natural disasters and human rights issues?
"I specialised in international journalism and TV production at university, and then specialised even further into conflict reporting. I believed at that stage of my life that my future was entirely in conflict reporting. And as soon as I graduated, I went to Egypt when the Rabaa massacre happened and then covered Syrian refugee camps in Jordan before going to Iraq."
What keeps you going when tackling these difficult subjects?
"Covering the conflict in Egypt was the most challenging time of my career. My life was at stake, I was working while wearing a gas mask, getting shot at, witnessing human pain every second of the day and operating on adrenaline without any sleep. I was driven by the experience of witnessing so much rawness. I felt like it went much beyond just witnessing. It was learning about the human condition – about what we're like in moments of extreme pressure and how we deal with the stress of extreme loss."
How do you find and tell stories that dig below the surface of a news story or issue?
"A lot of Egyptians don't even know what happened in that conflict – news outlets wouldn't publish a lot of my material because it contained dead people. It made me very angry, then I realised that this wasn't the way I was going to make a change in the world. Compassion fatigue is real and people can't handle so much horror all the time. So I took a u-turn and decided to work with challenging topics, but tried to present them in ways that were different and accessible. That was what led me into working with rape survivors around the world, and the decision to not present it in a photojournalistic black and white way, but to put the power back with the victim and allow them to frame themselves in an empowering way. This enabled people to watch their stories and see what was happening without feeling the same pain we always feel about the horrors of the world."
What drove you to set up Reframe House and what are your ambitions for it?
"Reframing goes beyond taking your camera and pointing it at a subject. It's like reframing life, using a camera. It's a symbiotic relationship, using stills, video or even holographic projections to create a shift in narrative. Reframe House is a business, and we want to use this methodology to present topics that matter, whether that's conflict or green energy, in ways that haven't been done before. We work with businesses and impact investors to make a tangible change in the world, rather than ticking corporate social responsibility boxes. Our method is more empathetic so it can be more easily received by people, making audiences active rather than passive."
What advice would you give to aspiring cinematographers?
"Don't believe in the box that you get put into. If somebody tells you that you can't do drama because you're a journalistic cinematographer, contest it. By putting ourselves into boxes we're losing our opportunity not just to grow technically, but to grow as people. The world is in need of deeper meaning, so for me it's about following your passion and your soul. There is a career path that's never been taken, and you can spearhead it."