Nowadays, everyone who holds a smart phone and knows how to take a picture with it is a photographer. As the days pass, and as the clock ticks, in every minute and every moment, there are memories that need to be kept, moments to be saved, actions to be captured forever. There is a beauty in photographs. Being able to save a moment is something we all need in our life. Just imagine not laughing at your embarrassing photos of you when you were young!
I don’t blame anyone for loving photography, but when it comes to us Gazans, we look at this from a different perspective. Here, people click the button to capture a moment that they never want to forget, whether it is a happy one, a comic one or a sad one. We capture the love in the eyes of newlyweds, we capture their joy. We capture the laughter of children playing on the sand and in the narrow streets of a refugee camp. We capture a selfie when we go out with our friends and family to a beautiful place. We always try to capture happiness in every corner we can reach.
But we also capture the sadness in the eyes of those who have lost their hearts in a sudden bomb. We capture the tears of a martyred mother when she says goodbye to her son. We capture the masses of sad men saying goodbye and walking through a martyr’s funeral. We capture the frights that we face when we are forced to flee from our homes in war. We capture the crimes that are done to us.
We don’t only take a picture of a dear one. We photograph the beauty of any place we like in Gaza, and there are many to count. If you asked anyone, where is your favorite place in Gaza? the answer would surely be the sea. The sea in all its beauty—from the sky to the chair on the sand, from the white waves to the yellow beach, from the golden sun to the purple one, from the blues of the sea to the green seaweed. Real sea lovers can hear the sound of the waves crashing simply by looking at a good picture of the sea. All of this paragraph describes a picture of the sea, yet I cannot begin to give the breathtaking scene its due. I can’t have enough pictures of the sea. I can’t even take it with multiple angles to make you see what I see of our beautiful sea.
When we click the button of the camera and take a picture of a place here in Gaza–our grandfather’s house, our home, the garden, the university, our favorite street, our favorite restaurant—do it because of the fear of not being able to see this place again. A bomb followed by shaking, then our favorite place is no longer there. Instead we find cement and broken rocks. We capture a picture so that we won’t forget our places, to make them live as long as we can, to help us remember what we had, to preserve our memories and to tell our kids, Once there was a place your uncle and I used to go to every Friday, but now we can’t, because of a stupid bomb. We take a picture to mark what happened, to feel our belonging to a place and to remember the feelings that we felt, so that no matter what happens to us, the story can still be told by a picture.
We capture love, happiness, fear and so many more emotions in only one click. A picture can travel the world. Pictures now are more important than ever—they are the voices and the evidence that we have to make you see what we Gazans went through, go through and will get through.
Pictures aren’t only to show you the broken lens of a photographer who died or lost his eye due to a bullet. Pictures are also meant to show the happiness of people who are trying to live life to its fullest. When you want to see the love in Gaza, just open the Instagram story of any wedding photographer from Gaza, and there are many of them. You would be amazed by their creativity, by the love family and friends have for each other and the love that newlyweds show in their eyes and you would be amazed by the beauty of us. We try to give life all we can, no matter how many times it lets us down.