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Inside the Conflict: Joey L. Gives Us a Look at the ‘Guerrilla Fighters of Kurdistan’

By Hanssie on June 7th 2015

It’s hard to fully understand war when many of us live in a place where it isn’t tangible. We see the images from the media, we read about it on our Facebook feeds, and like the millions of bits of information that crosses our paths daily, we process it and move on with our lives. For most of us, war and conflict are worlds away and rarely does it directly affect us or compel us to do anything but accept what we see at face value.

The conflict between Syria and Iraq has recently escalated before our eyes. We read snippets of the horrors that people have had to endure at the hands of rebel militias, and the jihadists – such as ISIS. But do we know who is fighting whom and why? Do we even care?

Photographer Joey L, whose work you’ve seen many times here on SLR Lounge, recently took a trip to photograph the conflict in Iraq. Joey’s passion is traveling the world and finding people and places to challenge our world view, and this project is no different.



After doing much research, Joey decided to “uncover the truth, or at least to better understand the nuances behind the headlines” of the Kurdish guerrilla groups and fly to Iraq to see for himself the people whose lives were directly affected by this war.

Portrait photography has a strange way of humanizing even the most distant of situations, and that was my goal with this project.

According to Joey’s blog, the Kurdish people have no country of their own and are fighting to protect their independence. These people were the ones Joey focused on in this personal project, titled, ‘Guerrilla Fighters of Kurdistan.‘ Joey stayed with the Kurdish for two weeks and in that time, witnessed and photographed, “liberated villages…refugee camps, border crossings, clashes with ISIS, and besieged villages.” He brings back his story, told in words, photographs and footage from his GoPro, as seen below.

You can read about Joey L‘s experience and see the extraordinary portraits he made of the Kurdish on his blog here.

[Via iso1200/Joey L ].

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Gabriel Rodriguez

    This guy has major balls for doing this and I totally respect him for this. Lets pray for him so he doesnt become another “Daniel Pearl” out there.

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  2. Raoni Franco

    I´m also very surprised with the lack of comments here. This kind of body of work is something that I don´t think I will ever be capable of doing, quality/courage wise. It´s deep, human, sad, complex, beautiful…….but we don´t really like that kind of thing right?? We like Hollywood baby!! Bring on the Von Wong stuff!!! Yeaaahhh………..

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  3. Justin Eid

    Surprised not many comments. Great insight Joey.
    If you don’t already know, the other reason why alot of woman Kurds are fighting is because Isis beleive that if they get killed by a woman they will go to hell. It was mention in another documentary. I have to say these photographers have balls going to a place like that.

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    • Thomas Horton

      “Isis believe that if they get killed by a woman they will go to hell.”

      No. That was a quote from a random female Kurdish soldier, first printed by the Wall Street Journal.

      “The jihadists don’t like fighting women, because if they’re killed by a female, they think they won’t go to heaven.”

      There is nothing in the ISIS doctrine that states that being killed by a woman will result in the person not going to paradise.

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    • Justin Eid

      Well it’s what i heard in the doco, I’m not trying to spin some random crap. Thanks for posting the first link that Google provided you with.

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  4. Hannes Nitzsche

    very powerful images and story on his blog too! Thanks for sharing this and big-ups to Joey L for this insight!

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  5. Graham Curran

    I have worked for several years in the area of north eastern Syria now controlled by ISIS. The conflict is not between Syria and Iraq but is ISIS against everyone else who disagrees with their view which includes the governments of both Syria and Iraq, and the Kurds who should have been given their own state after rather than being divided up amongst Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.

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  6. Raoni Franco

    What do you do with your photography? What will you do with your photography? What can you do with your photography? – that’s the kind of questions that pop up in my mind after reading and seeing this brilliant work from Joey. Absolutely awesome. Thanks!!

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