Photojournalists in Iraq often work in dangerous situations and risk their lives to capture the truth. Without proper copyrights, they and their work often don't get the recognition they deserve. Free Press Unlimited and Metrography work on strengthening and professionalising photojournalism in Iraq.

Metrography is the only independent photo agency in Iraq and therefore provides a unique source of visual media in a country dealing with conflict, terror and division. It strives to expand the space for freedom of expression across the country, so that photographers capture and uncover stories that are otherwise left untold.

Sustainable photojournalism in Iraq

Free Press Unlimited supports Metrography in its mission to establish a thriving and sustainable photography and photojournalism industry in Iraq that breaks down ethnic, cultural, and religious barriers. However, in order to achieve this mission they have to face several challenges:

  • Metrography photographers report from dangerous places, including conflict areas. Their safety and security is a daily concern and it is vital that they practice effective threat assessments, as well as having thorough knowledge of personal and digital security;
  • The organisation has been under pressure and even had their journalists threatened for the more sensitive stories they capture;
  • Iraqi photographers suffer from a poorly monitored copyrights law. This results in the abuse and misuse of their work as well as a loss of income, as photographers are not properly credited for the work they do.

Supporting female photographers

Since 2017, Metrography has been working to support female photographers in Iraq by providing trainings to young women on visual storytelling. Through trainings, support, and special exhibitions, these photographers are gaining the skills, exposure and confidence to tell the stories of the most vulnerable members of society. Metrography will support the establishment of a collective of female photographers in Iraq, which will provide them with a safe network to exchange knowledge and ideas. 

How we support Metrography

Free Press Unlimited is currently working with Metrography to address these challenges, by focusing on the following objectives;

  • To develop Metrography as a solid and sustainable organisation;
  • To increase the organisation's visibility and network, so that it becomes known for representing Iraqi photographers from across Iraqi society;
  • To lobby and advocate for the revision and implementation of the Iraqi copyright law.

In 2016 Free Press Unlimited has held workshops with Metrography, working towards these objectives by focusing on developing a long term mission, vision and five-year plan for the organisation. On the issue of journalist safety, Metrography’s journalists also attended medical safety training held in Erbil with the War Zone Freelance Project, provided by Free Press Unlimited. 

International media agencies

Metrography was founded in 2009 to breathe life into photojournalism in Iraq. The photography agency consists of a core group of nine Iraqi photographers, whose images have been used by major international media agencies including NPR, Vanity Fair, Time Magazine and the Washington Post. Metrography also shares their photographers’ work through social media, with active Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts. 

A great example of Metrography's work is the interactive multimedia project Map of Displacement, which illustrates the lives of displaced people of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. 

Boris van Westering, Free Press Unlimited's MENA team leader, expresses the importance of the work Metrography does: "Supporting independent photojournalism and Metrography's effort in using photography to tell stories that matter for the people in Iraq is very important. As such I believe that supporting Metrography in becoming a strong independent photo agency is crucial. We hope that more Iraqi and international media will find Metrography and make use of their powerful photo's."