Reflections on 30 Days of Forgiveness

by Special Guest on September 09, 2011


Lydia O'Neil Bullock is a humanitarian photographer from Cincinnati, Ohio, and an IGVP member. She's currently living in northern Iraq documenting surgical missions for the Preemptive Love Coalition. Lydia is also completing her senior thesis for the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, DC. Lydia is represented by ZUMA Press. Today we welcome her to the IGVP blog to reflect on her last photo story: 30 Days of Ramadan

Four, Zero, Thirty…Four Months I'd been living in Iraq. Zero times I'd experienced Ramadan. Thirty days I had to figure it out. I knew enough about Ramadan to cover the basics: holy month, fasting till sundown, forgiveness of sins. But I was struggling with how to document it. I knew the shots I could expect to get, but I wasn't interested in pieces of Ramadan, I wanted a whole picture.  I needed somewhere to start. My first thoughts-- I was impressed (if not doubtful) that an entire city would steep their lives in worship together for an entire month. Would the expectation Ramadan brings really be met on an individual level? What would people do all day if they couldn't eat, and couldn't work because they weren't eating? What about the laborers; what about the handicapped, the old, the young. Could people really keep this up for a month?

I decided to hone in on the individuality of conviction within corporate worship. Having been raised in the church myself, I've had religion and ceremony each Sunday, my whole life. I know from personal life experience that corporate worship is made up of sinners with varying degrees of expertise. I believe in conviction and I believe that faith is personal and not to be homogenized. Walking the dangerous line of assumption, I viewed my Muslim neighbors through this understanding. Ramadan is a holy month full of conventionality. I had a feeling that underneath the blanket of fasting, there had to be individuals with great stories. I wanted to look under the blanket, take their faith for what it was, and write it down. I would be creating an introduction, a daily walk through of Ramadan for my audience. 

With the help of a lot of friends here in Iraq, I managed to find, photograph, and interview thirty different people for Ramadan! I met everyone from date vendors to Imams, professors to little sisters. I met a doctor who spoke about the bodily rewards for fasting and I met Shawn, the cocky 21-year-old who doesn't care for religion. I learned to photograph everyone, listen to anyone, and write it down.  

I'm excited to share what I found with the Visual Peacemaker community, I am so blessed by all of you. 

View this photostory here.



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