How I Got the Photo – Peter Bregg

2016 NPOY PORTRAIT / PERSONALITY, Finalist – Zanib, who escaped three times from ISIS, at the Yazidi refugee camp Khanke outside Duhok, Iraq, July 26, 2016. Zanib did not give her last name or want her face visible because female relatives are still captive. She is one of the 2,600 girls and women who have escaped; 3,200 others are still missing after being kidnapped during the August 3, 2014, attack by ISIS. (Peter Bregg / Maclean’s)

I used a Nikkor 24-70mm zoom on this shoot.  ISO: 400   Aperture: 2.8  Shutter: 1/60

Zanib happened to pass by this spot where she is shown and I found the light perfect for the mood I was hoping to illustrate. I took the shot and showed it to her to prove her face was not visible. I then asked her to stand still to make a sharper image.

I was travelling for Maclean’s Magazine in the northern Iraq area of Kurdistan with writer Sally Armstrong. We were doing a story on the Yazidi refugees who have escaped from ISIS after the 2014 invasion of Shingle mountain area. We visited a few refugee camps including Kanke outside of Duhok which is about 80km from Mosul.

Below is Sally’s lead of that story in Maclean’s Magazine:

Zinab, a 31-year-old Yazidi, was captured by Islamic State in Kocho, a village in Kurdistan, Iraq, on Aug. 3, 2014. That was the day the terror group invaded the ancient Yazidi homeland and began a reign of terror.

She was made a sex slave, endured constant rapes and beatings; she escaped her captors three times, was caught and sold again four times. On March 21, 2016, she was sold to a man who turned out to be a rescuer sent by her family. Now she sits in the dark room of an abandoned building near Dahuk, Iraq, with her uncle’s wife, whose two daughters, age 12 and 15, are still in the hands of ISIS.

So is Zinab’s 20-year-old sister. Twenty-six hundred girls and women have escaped; 3,200 are still missing. Most of their men are dead, lying in mass graves around Shingal Mountain (the Yazidi word for the Arabic Sinjar Mountain). She decides to gamble on telling her story one more time — hoping someone in the world will find her sister.

P.S. Sally and I have just returned from a week (Feb. 11-21, 2017) in the same Kurdistan area following up on some stories of Canada’s involvement in Iraq and the plight of the Yazidis.


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