Roger Moukarzel – I believe in life

As the war blazed on Beirut blew up once again and with it - my workspace; where sat idly all my archives. It was just another day in the red inferno Beirut had become. And there was my life’s work, going up in smoke - the world was watching, and we were enduring. The affected area had become a no mans land; I was escorted by the military into what was a calm Christian suburb to find I had lost everything. All my archives, all my work, all the images I thought immortal were gone. Amidst my ruins, I asked to be photographed. I was still standing – the work itself was lost but I was not. I knew it would be fine - I was around to make more. The only thing on my mind was the future.

I was born three times in three different worlds. When I look back I really feel I lead three lives, the first being my childhood, the second as a war photojournalist – and my current life as a creative photographer. Images have always been my job, ever since I can remember I captured every scene playing out before my eyes, every atypical character, every singular space.

One day, I must have been about twelve years old; I managed to pinch my older brother’s camera. That black box, it immortalized elusive moments; and it was in my hands. We were in the countryside; I went outside and shot an old neighboring house. The spark was ignited. That would be my very first photograph. My passion as a photographer would only ever grow, nourished in the analog era and evolving into the digital world … and with it my eye would sharpen.

I was lucky enough to outlive the war inches away from explosions. The constant struggle for survival extended to that of preserving my sanity- that concern of preserving sanity amidst unbounded madness haunted me. Living in endless danger and fear created a thin line in my sensibility. Crossing into complete apathy became a necessary risk. I would feel nothing. I kept wondering if I was only physically alive. That was my real battle, trying not to die on the inside.

I was born three times, in three different worlds. In all three of them I tried my best to leave my mark, to convey a message, to make a point. I suppose I wanted to defeat my own mortality, instinctively striving to leave something to be remembered by, to make a change

I survived working as a photojournalist for the likes of Sygma & Reuters, … exploring the obscure depths of war, but more importantly life sustained throughout. I won many awards and my war photo-documentaries were published worldwide by international publications. But the most significant wealth acquired was resilience. My belief in life and humanity grew stronger. People think we stopped living because of the violence. We were crippled by heartbreak and disgust – but we never stopped living, working, loving ... We were not only surviving, we lived passionately, ferociously and mundanely. We were wed under bullet showers; danced in bunkers, and ran for our lives. We adapted. We were stronger. I believe in life.