Ahmed Najm: The Man Who Learnt Photography From Life

Written in partnership with DN News Desk

Ahmed NajmPhoto Credit: Ahmed NajmToday, the world in which we live is truly a ‘glocal’ world where the global is the local. Stories travel faster from one country to another, and there are better connections across borders. Artists use every opportunity in this world to showcase their talent or grow to be more than their situations.

Born in Kirkuk, Iraq, Ahmed Najm is a photojournalist and the managing director of Metrography Agency, the first and only photo agency in Iraq. He is also the Vice President of the Vim Foundation and the editor-in-chief of Humans of Kurdistan. While Ahmed is now published on several international platforms as a reputed photojournalist, he never underwent any professional photographer training. He built upon his brother’s dream and got an eye for capturing visual stories that he polished through experience and practical learning.

The Brother’s Custodian

The youngest of six brothers, Ahmed Najm, saw his brother Kamaran Najm sharing pictures of attacks and explosions in Iraqi publications from a very young age. Photojournalism, back then, was not valued through the sentiment but through the quantity of blood in the picture. This inspired his brother to start Metrography with his friend, Sebastian Meyer.

In 2014, Kamaran was covering the first fight between the Iraqi soldiers and ISIS, wherefrom he was kidnapped. Since then, Ahmed Najm continued his brother’s ambition and grew Metrography Agency’s business.

Global Norms and Photojournalism

Working with many people across the globe, he learns new ideas and concepts that are always exhibited in his pictures too. However, taught through experiences in the school of life, Najm also believes that one must develop their ideas based on their environment. They should not just follow global norms. Instead, photojournalists should build their own style and standards, based on their locality, their requirement.

Metrography Agency

With his team of about 73 journalists at Metrography, Ahmed makes the uncommon common. They believe that they can collaborate with international platforms, but they must stay in Iraq to tell the stories no one else will. He believes that international publications will take up regular reports.

But, the daily antics of life, the people, the climate, the change in weather, the pollution, the everyday accidents, these are what needs to be brought forward. He is currently working on stories about the post-ISIS Iraq and the return of the IDPs (internally displaced persons). Metrography also organizes an annual photo festival in five cities of Iraq.

Wading Through Success

Currently, Najm supervises a group of photojournalists who record various events across different Iraqi cultures and religions. He is also a safety trainer and mentors young photojournalists to cover war zones. He has also trained 15 women photojournalists to bring their perspectives into publication as well. He was recently the jury member of the World Press Photo Contest 2019.

With a determination to make every story heard and the passion for living and dreaming for his brother, the success story of Ahmed Najm is indeed a unique one that shall keep inspiring us all