As one of the most eminent freelance photojournalists today, Meyer has won numerous awards, and his work has been featured in some of the world’s most renowned publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and TIME magazine.
He and fellow photographer Kamara Najm Ibrahim co-founded the first Iraqi photo agency Metrography four years ago. Since its founding, Metrography has grown to become the definitive source of photojournalism that captures the conflicts and political strife across the country.
“Iraq is a country like — and unlike — any other. They have musicians and athletes, culture and social activities. You don’t have to deal with bombs and explosions, though that happens too,” he said. “Our idea was to start an agency that could train local photographers to do the kind of thing that all photographers know how to do.”
From the frontline to the front page
Having worked in Iraq since 2009, Meyer is aware that the international press and wire services are increasingly turning to local freelance reporters, photographers and filmmakers to provide compelling, first-hand insights into what’s happening on the ground — as it happens — to meet the demands of today’s fast-paced news and information environment.
At the same time, he believes that the work of his agency has to stand on its own merits, and not just because it is easier for the foreign press to use local freelancers. As such, Metrography requires reliable communications in order to file stories in real time.
Through a sponsorship by Thuraya and with the support of the Rory Peck Trust, Meyer received a Thuraya IP+ broadband terminal earlier this year along with a free airtime package, to enable him to keep connected and stay safe when operating deep in conflict zones without terrestrial network coverage.
According to Meyer, the small and compact satellite equipment has already provided the Metrography team with a clear competitive edge; the team is able to leverage mobile satellite connectivity to file stories, wherever the location. “My camera bag is getting bigger these days but the Thuraya terminal is small enough to fit in,” he explained.
Meyer added: "Because of the poor state of infrastructure in Iraq, issues such as electricity cuts and poor network coverage can pose a challenge to reporters and photographers who need to file their work on time. The Thuraya IP+ terminal will be a significant help in delivering stories from parts of the country which are often cut off from electricity and the internet."
Mobile satellite communications plays an instrumental role in helping Meyer share his photographs with global news outlets, and even enables him to pursue his passion in filmmaking and his budding exploration of video documentary as a narrative medium. Being lightweight and highly portable, Thuraya IP+ provides Meyer the flexibility to deploy his communications equipment with ease, allowing him to double up both as cameraman and reporter — should the occasion call for it.
“Satellite communications can make the difference between breaking a news story and missing it,” he said. “I file stories regularly for Voice of America, where I have to perform the duties of being the cameraman, producer and reporter all at the same time. The Thuraya IP+ now allows me to conduct live reporting, which is something that I haven’t been able to do before.”
Equally important, the Thuraya IP+ provides him with a reliable means of staying in touch with the outside world.
"When you are out in the field, it's healthy to stay in contact with friends, family members and colleagues who can give you the support to continue doing the work you want to do," Meyer said.
Stay close, keep shooting
Journalists like Meyer continue doing what they do best — delivering breaking news and providing valuable first-hand perspectives from the frontline — because they know they can depend on Thuraya’s equipment and satellite coverage to help them stay close to the action.
Meyer said: "Conflicts are loud, confusing and disorienting, and it's very important for journalists to be able to tell their stories — that it's not just about body count and politics. It's about people, their anger and their sorrow, even their joy. To tell that story with images, you have to be there. You have to be close."
Metrography aims to establish a thriving photography and photojournalism industry in Iraq that breaks down ethnic, cultural, and religious barriers; fosters peer-to-peer collaboration and learning; and celebrates Iraq’s diversity and history by telling its story through editorial and commercial photography, videography, and multimedia productions. To learn more about Sebastian Meyer and his work, visit www.sebmeyer.com and https://metrography.photoshelter.com