Ottawa photographer captures transitions of war-torn countries

Ottawa photographer captures transitions of war-torn countries

For 15 years, Grant Kippen was assigned to research international elections, but every once in a while, he'd pull out his camera and snap a photo. 

However, he didn't take photos of meetings or polling stations where he was working. Instead, he turned the lens toward the citizens of the countries he visited. 

"I just happen to take photos along the way," Kippen told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning on Wednesday.  "[I] see something that I like and just snap away."

For the last 15 years, he's photographed scenes in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Now those photos are going on display at the University of Ottawa.

The oldest photograph at the exhibition is a blue mosque in a small town in Afghanistan, taken in 2003. The most recent was taken in Mogadishu, Somalia this past October.

With thousands of photos taken over the years, it was hard to narrow the exhibit down to 30, he said. 

The pictures are arranged by theme, Kippen explained. He tried to connect to the local people to "capture their images." 

One photo in the collection shows this brief moment where his camera entered their world. 

Several small boys in Kandahar play in the dirt, boxed in by a road on one side and a wall topped with barbed wire on the other. They watched the procession of large trucks go by, Kipped recounted. 

"They were in awe." 

Despite the myriad of different photos, there's one thing that connects them all together. 

"These countries are all going through transitions," Kippen said. "It's about that journey."