DREW CORNICK REPORTS FROM CAIRO:
I initially decided to come to Cairo, when I heard that the revolution had started. Having been on the front lines of many large scale social issue protests in the states, I thought it was time to broaden my horizons, and what better chance than with a Revolution; and quite a peaceful one at that. Also coinciding with the onslaught of the revolution, I came up with the concept Project Uprising, which I am hoping to evolve into a community of activists and story tellers from around the world who will focus on the social issues affecting them, and provide support and exposure for their photos and stories; and this seemed like a great way to start.
I arrived in Cairo 3 days before Mubarak officially stepped down, I should have been here a day earlier, but Lufthansa had cancelled my flight due to low ticket sale volume. And had tickets not been more expensive, I would have been here at least a week earlier, but since I am financing my own trip, I had to make certain concessions.
I have only been hassled one time, by only one guy in his early 20's on the night Mubarak resigned. Strangely enough he was a protest supporter but, apparently he had a bit of nationalist sentiment. However, when he had confronted me, in Arabic, nearly 10 other protesters surrounded him and told him to piss off, and escorted me away saying, "Everything is going to be alright, and Thank you for being here, and welcome to Egypt." It was truly remarkable, that complete strangers came to my rescue. Apart from that guy, I have been welcomed with open arms and open hearts. One protester was so delighted that I took his photo, he gave me his scarf as a gesture of appreciation.
Another remarkable thing is that, for the most part Egypt is completely united presently. Men, women, children, seniors, Muslims, and Christians, are all standing together, getting to know each other and re-building their communities.
"I actually feel safer here, than I do in Los Angeles."
People from home ask me all the time, don't you feel scared, or that you are in harm's way, and in all honesty, I have never felt safer before. The people that are out protesting are really trying to protect members of the press, as they want to get their stories out.
While there have been a few isolated incidents of reporters in harm’s way; you could count them on one hand, you have to realize that throughout this revolution, there have been over 5,000 reporters, journalists, photographers, videographers, bloggers, and technical support staff here, so even 10 people getting harassed is less than 1% of the population of the media here in Cairo. None-the-less, I play it safe and very pragmatically, and try not to draw a whole lot of attention to myself, but that can be rather difficult, traveling around with a large digital SLR wrapped around my neck.
When I pull out my camera to shoot, I try to look for not only visually stunning shots, but shots that are really going to move people. I have started shooting, what I call the "Faces of the Egyptian Revolution," which is a collection of close up shots of individuals who have partaken in the revolution. However, anything that shows life in a different perspective that the typical life of most people in the metropolitan western world, such as tanks and armed soldiers lining the streets, and impoverished protesters, who have nothing to lose and have been out in Tahrir since the beginning. Ultimately, anything that is going invoke some kind of emotional response to the photo.
Drew Cornick is a photo-journalist and activist who lives in Los Angeles, California.
All pictures © Drew Cornick 2011