In 2001, I was photographing refugees in Pakistan for the International Rescue Committee when the Taliban surprisingly gave me permission to cross the border and "show the world the real Afghanistan". A few months later, I was at home in New York when the twin towers fell and I decided to change the direction of my New York-based photography work and focus fully on telling the stories of refugees and working on international development issues. I spent nearly five years on the ground in Afghanistan working with Afghans as well as international organizations such as the UN, USAID, EU and NGOs as a communications advisor and content producer. Since then I've also worked in other fragile and post-conflict countries in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The focus of my work is both the theoretical aspect of communications and the creative, often in collaboration with local media producers and artists. I've written numerous communications strategies, designed communications outreach campaigns, collaborated on creative products and trained communicators on strategy and content production.
My photographs, which primarily focus on international development themes, have been made on commission for UN agencies, USAID and various NGOs and have also been published by The New York Times, LA Times, Paris Match, Conde Nast, Oprah, El Palacio (Museum of New Mexico) and others. Gallery 169 and Sharq Gallery, both in Los Angeles, as well as the Council on Foreign Relations in New York have held solo exhibitions of my Afghanistan work. Exhibition venues for my other work include the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Sunnen Gallery in NYC and private collections. My photography book "Passage to Afghanistan”, was published in 2016 (Skyhorse, New York). In 2018, I was appointed to the US State Department's Fulbright Specialist Program.
I've made documentary films in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Sudan - usually collaborating with local crews. I've also written cross-cultural narrative screenplays, including SCARLET POPPY, which was an Academy Nicholl Fellowship semi-finalist and was sponsored by the National Film Development Corp of India at Independent Filmmaker Project's (IFP) "No Borders" in New York as well as co-production markets at Cannes, India, Dubai, and Busan International Film Festivals. I played one of the lead roles in Golden Globe winner Siddiq Barmak's second feature, OPIUM WAR, which won the Golden Marc'Aurelio Critic's Award at the Rome International Film Festival and was Afghanistan's submission to the foreign film section of the Academy Awards.
I grew up in Colorado, Germany and Texas and received a BA in philosophy and history from the University of Colorado, Boulder. I studied at Columbia University's MFA film program and at the Anthropology Film Center in Santa Fe, NM. I've spoken and/or guest lectured at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), New York University, The New School for Social Research and Frostburg State University.