Adriane Ohanesian

Adriane Ohanesian

Based
Juba, South Sudan
Born
Saratoga Springs, United States
Status
Photographer
Camera
Canon 5D Mark II
“There’s always a hope in my mind that a photograph will spark a thought, realisation, or action that could help to change a situation for the better.”

Beat

For the past two years, I have been in South Sudan photographing news and humanitarian issues. My focus has been on border demarcation, the conflict over oil, healthcare and the Sudanese refugees living in South Sudan.

One Shot

. Malualkon, South Sudan. REUTERS/Adriane Ohanesian
Toma Adeng, Maria Abuk, Mary Achol, and Martha Akuch (from left to right), who work as birth attendants, travelled to the Malualkon Primary Health Care Center for a meeting in Malualkon, South Sudan.
“All of these women serve as midwives within their communities, yet also work closely with the government to ensure that, if need be, expectant mothers will have access to a healthcare facility. In a place like South Sudan, which has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, the role of these women is truly invaluable.”

Profile

My first memory of photography is taking photographs in a park close to my house after a huge storm. It was my first roll of black-and-white film. I developed it in a makeshift darkroom at my school. I left my film to dry, and returned to find that some older students had thrown it away.

My mother taught me to use her 35mm film camera. I taught myself digital photography while studying in Indonesia and travelling in Africa. After university, I attended the International Center of Photography’s documentary and photojournalism program.

A month after graduating from the photojournalism course, I went to live in Port Sudan, Sudan. I was living in a one-room apartment with two of my friends. I had been waiting for weeks to get a travel permit from Khartoum and had become sick. A website asked me to take photos for an environmental story on the banning of plastic bags. For the first time, I thought that maybe I could make this photography thing work.

Last spring, I had the opportunity to travel into the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan, Sudan with the Sudanese rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army - North (SPLA-N). I have always held a special place in my heart for the Sudanese people because of their dignity, hospitality, and humour. I was struck by the intense amount of suffering that the Sudanese government continues to inflict upon its own people throughout Sudan.

I like to be able to take the time to be enveloped in the story as much as possible and to feel that I am part of a struggle, even for a brief moment.

Working in South Sudan is isolating, but it can also be exciting to photograph events that may not otherwise be documented.

There’s always a hope in my mind that a photograph will spark a thought, realisation, or action that could help to change a situation for the better.

My biggest lesson? Humour and patience go a long way.

I respect the people I’ve met in South Sudan who have been through so much suffering, yet still have the desire and motivation to make productive changes.

Behind the Scenes

. Sudan
Adriane Ohanesian photographs the site of a civilian's house that was bombed by Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) planes in South Kordofan, Sudan.