Powerful photographs

by Niki Kefala

John Wreford is a British photographer that his work has been exhibited and published around the world. Through his photographs and his blog, wants to promote more of an understanding of Syria and its people, as he lived there for 10 years. His captures make us think, smile and cry. Thank you for the interview, John!

First of all I would like to introduce yourself.

My name is John Wreford and I am a British freelance photographer, I was born in London but left the UK for the Middle East in 2003, I lived for ten years in Syria until I was forced to leave. I now live in Istanbul Turkey; my work has been exhibited and published around the world.

Why did you create your own blog https://johnwreford.wordpress.com/ ?

I created my blog for a number of reasons, financially I was broke after my experience in Syria so with time on my hands it allowed me to explore some of my thoughts about what I had lived through, writing I found was a way to get some personal perspective, I had kept a diary while in Damascus but not very efficiently so my blog helped me to collate my notes. The blog is intended mostly for words rather than pictures, as a photographer writing is still new to me, in Damascus during the war I was unable to work so I began writing, I felt it important to at least be able to share something of the reality of life at that time even if I was denied the right to photograph. Through my blog which I consider very much under development I want to promote more of an understanding of Syria and its people, a country I feel terribly misunderstood.

Also the blog allows me to tell some of the stories behind my images, sharing the experience and introducing a part of the world to those that have not had the opportunity to visit. I also plan more of a resource, information on travel, photography and organizations helping refugees and those in need.

What makes a good photograph…?

This is a very personal question, much like what makes one person attracted to another. I don’t like to get too hung up on the technicalities of photography, what camera etc. A good photograph makes you stop and look twice, makes you think, smile or cry, conveys a message or a story.

The Ummayad Mosque Damascus Syria
The Ummayad Mosque Damascus Syria
Winter Istanbul
Gezi Protest Istanbul


What inspires you the most?

Inspiration comes in different forms. I have always found inspiration in books and film, often movies for me that use photography creatively get my attention and push me to be more creative, literature too, just appreciating the creative process for me is inspiration.

Injustice is often an inspiration; when I was younger and first learned of the appalling conditions Palestinian refugees were enduring in camps across the Middle East I felt it was important for me to tell people.

Of course other photographers, I still have a love of classic street photography such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and William Klein, war photographers such as Capa and Don McCullin but also lesser known friends and colleagues I have worked with.

You can see John’s work also here http://wreford.photoshelter.com/index#!/index

Damascus Old City

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