© David Brunetti

Khaled Barghouthi is a professional dancer and choreographer. Born in a village near Ramallah, he studied dance in Belgium. He tries to perform in Palestine whenever possible but said due to the lack of opportunities in the West Bank he has to work in Europe if he wants to dance professionally. But when Khaled is in Palestine, he teaches dance at the Ramallah Ballet Centre and gives workshops about dance at the Franco-German Cultural Center in Ramallah.

© David Brunetti

Maya Khaldi is a Palestinian musician and singer. I met Maya in her father’s house, her favourite place in Ramallah, after a long day of teaching and preparing for exams.

Maya is singing with several groups and has performed numerous Jazz-fusion gigs with Palestinian musicians. Maya also teaches music theory, early childhood music education and conducts three choirs at The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music.

This gallery contains 3 photos.

© David Brunetti Earlier this year, EveryChild invited me to document their work supporting children who are growing up in institutional care in Moldova. I finally have an extended edit on my site. In Moldova – one of the poorest countries in Europe – nearly half of the population lives below the national poverty line. Many …

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© David Brunetti

My portrait of Reem and Noor was selected for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

Reem and Noor are sisters in law who live in a small two-room apartment with their families and in laws. I met them and their families, who are Syrian refugees, while I was working on a project about urban refugees in Jordan with UNHCR.

I was in Azraq when an elderly man, Reem and Noor's father in law, took notice of me. He invited my guide and me for coffee in his house where I met the whole family. The location on the edge of town in itself was beautiful – lots of land and trees around the concrete buildings – but the home he led me to looked more like a storage room than a place to live with children but I suppose it is safer than Syria. The family was very friendly and welcoming, they were asking me a lot of questions about my life. I was the first foreigner they’ve ever met and everybody was very excited and curious. They told me about themselves but they didn’t what to talk too much about the war or their life as refugees. They were very proud and didn’t want to complain. They didn’t want to be seen as victims. I spend the afternoon with them chatting and laughing and after a while Reem and Noor eventually asked me if I wanted to take their picture. And without any hesitation or direction from me they got up and stood in the middle of the small room and said they were ready and I took this shot. After their mothers had their portrait taken the children and the rest of the family also wanted to sit for me. But it was this first shot that is special to me because Reem and Noor took the initiative and yet I see their curiosity, shyness and vulnerability as well as courage in their portrait.

© David Brunetti

Three of my images, including my portrait of Jihan, were selected to be part of the Miniclick response exhibition at the Phoenix Gallery in Brighton. The exhibition, which took place over the opening weekend of the Brighton Photo Fringe, was a live curating event that invited the public to chose the work that featured in the exhibition. As the work was picked out to be printed there and then, the exhibition evolved as new images emerged throughout the weekend. I'm proud that my work was chosen to be part of it.

The shortlist of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 13 has been announced today, and I’m thrilled to announce that one of my entries was selected for the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Of 5,410 photographs entered only 60 were chosen by the judges. The show will run at the NPG from 14 November 2013 until 9 February 2014.

I will share the portrait that was chosen to exhibit alongside the shortlisted entries and my fellow finalists at a later date.

http://www.npg.org.uk/photoprize1/site13/index.php

© David Brunetti

A Jordanian soldier waits for Syrian refugees to approach the border.

As the civil war in Syria enters its third year, a steady stream of civilians continues to flood Jordan through official and unofficial border crossings as they flee ongoing violence.

Many feel safer crossing in the dark, but it remains a risky journey by day or night. The Free Syrian Army whisks them to the border. On the other side Jordanian army watchtowers keep a close eye on Syrian troop movement. The moonlight guides them as they walk among the sand and rocks. They make their way by foot carrying what they can. It’s a dangerous and tiring journey.

The refugees arrive exhausted, scared and traumatized. Bundled in their arms are infants swaddled in thick blankets, jars of olives, plastic bags and suitcases jammed with clothing and other odds and ends.

With their border ordeal over, exhausted families gather together in army tents as they wait for the registration process before they are transported to temporary shelters.

© David Brunetti

#ThrowbackThursday

Eight years ago, Jerusalem, where I met Yehoram, was my (temporary) home for a few months. Yehoram and his family invited me and a friend for shabbos. Yehoram is a jolly man, we received a very warm welcome from his family and shared a wonderful evening. Towards the end of the dinner he looked at us and declared that my friend and I were good together and we should get married! Whallah. Fun fact, he was right, we are good together and we've been together ever since.

© David Brunetti

This week was Refugee Week. And after two years of conflict, the situation in Syria remains dire. Families have been torn apart, communities ruined and schools and hospitals destroyed.

Samir is a Syrian refugee now living in Jordan. He told me that he’s a father to three boys. One morning he took his two eldest boys to school in his car when without warning government forces opened fire. He and his boys were shot. Soldiers then dragged him out of the car beat him severely and left him and the children for dead. His two boys died that mourning.

© David Brunetti

Today is World Refugee Day. And after two years of conflict, the situation in Syria remains dire. Families have been torn apart, communities ruined and schools and hospitals destroyed.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled the civil war in Syria for the relative safety of neighbouring host countries such as Jordan. They might have escaped the civil war but when they cross the border refugees face a host of new challenges. And as the number of refugees increases and the resources to cope with the influx dwindle, many Syrians decide to leave refugee camps – such as Zaatari which is now infamous for the tremendous number of Syrians it shelters – and settle in Jordan’s cities and towns instead. The refugee crisis in urban areas is far less visible, but no less serious than in the refugee camps. Many Syrians are living in unheated or unfurnished apartments, garages or tents, which are often overcrowded. Many families are facing increased debt as they struggle to pay for soaring rent and the rising costs of food, water and other basic essentials. And with no access to income, their problems will only multiply.

© David Brunetti

This photo was taken during the initial assessment of the child in the primary healthcare centre in Zaatari Refugee Camp.

The baby was suffering of high temperature and respiratory problems, which were all due the harsh conditions in the camp. The camp is set in inhospitable desert and the surroundings are bleak. With few barriers to protect against the relentless wind and dust, many are suffering from severe respiratory conditions, as well as pneumonia and dehydration.

© David Brunetti

The majority of Syrian refugees have settled in urban areas rather than refugee camps such as Zaatari. Life is Jordan is expensive for the Syrians. Many of the urban refugees struggle to make ends meet. Rents have risen significantly since refugees started to settle in Jordan and many landlords charge refugees exorbitant rents and having spent their saving and sold jewelry, keepsakes and heirlooms many struggle to afford the rents. Families who cannot afford the rents on the housing market, those who have entered Jordan illegally and Syrians who are not (yet) registered with UNHCR are camping out on the outskirts of towns.

© David Brunetti

This photograph is part of my long-term project ‘Amore Tossico,’ which is not just a photographic portrait of Jo, her relationship with the men in her life and her dependency on drugs and alcohol but an account of the perils and complexities of women like Jo face who struggle with drug and alcohol dependencies, had experiences of sexual abuse and are forever on the brink of homelessness.

My image of Joaquim and Jo has been selected for the Kuala Lumpur Photo Award 13.

© David Brunetti

This is my portrait of 'Rahel and Tesfayeh.' It was my firm favourite among my Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize entries this year. When I learned that, sadly, it wasn't selected for the exhibition I was honestly disappointed - had I only submitted one entry this year it would have been this one and I wouldn't have made the cut - sadly. I believe this shows how subjective judging is.

The Portrait Salon launched as an alternative to the Taylor Wessing last year and set out to prove that among those rejected entries are portraits strong enough to rival the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. When I received the news that the Portrait Salon chose to include my portrait of 'Rahel and Tesfayeh' for this year's selection of rejected works I was honestly excited and my faith in photography was restored.

The Portrait Salon 12 launches tomorrow with a simultaneous projection of this year's selection in London, Cardiff, Leeds and Brighton. If you're around please do join us and grab yourself a copy of the Portrait Salon 12 newspaper!

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