Humanity Through a Lens: The Work of Photographer Giles Duley Part 4 of 4

On Friday, February 20th at 6:30pm at the Variety Screening Room (Hobart Building) in San Francisco, EMERGENCY USA will be screening Walking Wounded: Return to the Front Line, a documentary film about London-based photographer and EMERGENCY UK trustee Giles Duley‘s return to Afghanistan for the first time after losing three of his limbs to an IED the year before. Giles and director Siobhan Sinnerton will be there for the reception and Q&A. Click here for tickets.

In order to provide context and draw attention to Duley’s incredible career, we’ll be highlighting his many accomplishments in a four part series leading up to the screening on February 20th. You can read part 1part 2, and part 3 here. 


Portrait of EMERGENCY founder Gino Strada. Photo credit: Giles Duley

For Giles Duley, the injury that so nearly cost him his life also forced him to reflect on the career that was almost cut short and the photographic opportunities he still wanted to explore. While recovering, he thought through a list of people he would like to photograph. He had always been drawn to the form of portraits and their use as a story telling technique. After he recovered, he started 100 Portraits Before I Die, a project in which he aims to capture the portraits of 100 different people from the list he had created while stuck in a hospital bed. “This wasn’t just a list of heroes or inspirations,” he says, “more a collection of people who had shaped my cultural identity or whose large personas drew me in.”

In Milan in 2013

Giles in Milan with EMERGENCY staff

The first portrait he completed in the series was of  EMERGENCY founder Gino Strada in 2012. It was a photo he had been meaning to capture in 2010 while he was at the Salam Center for Cardiac Surgery in Khartoum, Sudan; but, Gino is elusive. He describes the moment when he finally got his portrait: “I’ve waited nearly three years to take this photograph. I’ve been through a personal hell in that time, yet somehow I’m here, back where I left off. I’ve set up my lights to reflect the conditions in Sudan and this time I have my subject. A truly incredible man, whose story I’m finally going to try and capture.”

The two also sat down in 2013 to talk about EMERGENCY‘s philosophy and its application.

Watch Giles Duley’s 2012 TEDx talk Becoming the Story:

“All around the world, people are going through terrible things. Everyone of us is going through our own terrible experience. But if we share those, and we talk about stories, we can inspire each other to get through our own bad experiences.
I know that the people I’ve recorded have got me to this point and I hope, in some small way, the stories I’ve been able to tell you will help you get through things. And in turn, I hope you’ll use your experiences to help others.”
-Giles Duley

Duley’s book “Afghanistan, 2012,” a photo-journal from his return to Afghanistan featuring photos of our Surgical Center in Kabul, is available for purchase here.

To help child victims of war in Afghanistan like Sediqullah receive treatment their injuries, click here to donate now.

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