“War was my life.” Photographer Gary Knight on a Career Spent at the Heart of Conflict

Have you heard about our partner The VII Foundation’s new book titled Imagine: Reflections on Peace? A 3-year reporting project, the book shows how peace is actually lived on the ground and inside communities that are rebuilding after years of conflict. In this British GQ article featuring an excerpt from the book, Gary Knight looks back on a career characterized in equal parts by violence and hope and asks what it really means to be at peace.

“In 1988, I flew to Bangkok on a cheap KLM flight and sat at the back of the plane with the smokers. My rucksack was in the hold and my precious Billingham camera bag on my knees. The flight was the third I had taken in my life. When the plane landed, I went to the Bangkok Youth Hostel on Phitsanulok Road, beginning my career as a photographer from a bunk bed in a dormitory.”

In the 20 years that followed, I lived with an omnipresent inner conflict between my wonder at just being present and my distress about the violence and injustice I was witnessing. I lived through incidents that made me feel grateful but profoundly uncomfortable, like the moment when a Khmer Rouge officer – a man who had, ten years earlier, been involved in the slaughter in Cambodia – tenderly held my hand and guided me safely through a minefield.”