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South Africa-Based Photographer Emma O'Brien Focuses on Triumph of Human Spirit

  • Darren Taylor
A documentary photographer in South Africa is training a spotlight on some of the most dangerous and impoverished areas in Africa. Emma O’Brien says people are ignoring what’s happening in places like war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC, for example, because it’s so painful and horrible. But the spotlight she uses to force people to acknowledge the atrocities is a very different one. It doesn’t shine on tragedy, terror and tears, as many photographs do. Instead, it concentrates its beam on images alive with hope, in places populated by people generally considered to be hopeless.
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Emma O’Brien takes photographs in some of the poorest and most violent places on earth … Yet many of her subjects are smiling. (Photo: E. O’Brien Photography)
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Emma O’Brien takes photographs in some of the poorest and most violent places on earth … Yet many of her subjects are smiling. (Photo: E. O’Brien Photography)

The woman with the tumor, who O’Brien met and photographed in the DRC (Photo: E. O’Brien Photography)
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The woman with the tumor, who O’Brien met and photographed in the DRC (Photo: E. O’Brien Photography)

Emma O’ Brien, photographer (Photo: E. O’Brien Photography)
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Emma O’ Brien, photographer (Photo: E. O’Brien Photography)

The woman with the surgical mask, hiding her terrible injuries (Photo: E. O’Brien Photography)
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The woman with the surgical mask, hiding her terrible injuries (Photo: E. O’Brien Photography)

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