Updated 12:44 a.m. EDT, Sun, March 19, 2023
By Christina Zdanowicz, Mohammed Tawfeeq, Will Lanzoni and Brett Roegiers, CNN
A shopkeeper squeezes fresh orange juice. A man sits while his cat sunbathes on a motorbike. Two girls are playing with their new umbrellas.
These street scenes paint a picture of how life has changed in Iraq in the 20 years since the country was invaded by the United States in 2003.
A year after the start of the war in Iraq, Michael Itkoff, an American studying photography at the time, had an idea. He sent 20 disposable cameras to a photojournalist working in Iraq and requested that the cameras be distributed to citizens.
He wanted to capture what life was like through the eyes of Iraqis. The prompt was simple: show the American public what you want them to see.
“We were looking to counter some of the media portrayals of the conflict that were painting this idea of an insurgency where every Iraqi could be the enemy,” said Itkoff, who posted the photos to Daylight, a visual storytelling platform. and book publisher he co-founded.
This year, he repeated the experience of the disposable camera. And this time, the images show a return to normal despite the presence of old injuries.
“While the scenes of everyday life signal that life has changed and is returning to a more peaceful existence in the photos of Baghdad, some of the images from Fallujah and Mosul paint a picture of visible scars and cities left in disrepair” , did he declare.
CNN spoke to several of the Iraqis who took the photos this year. Many of them expressed a desire to show their country in a new light.
“I want the world to have a different image of Iraq, rather than seeing scenes of destruction and murder,” said Tariq Raheem, 50. “I want to send a message to the world that the Iraqi people love peace and want to live in peace.” .”