On Thursday, November 15, IRIS hosted a discussion with Mosulgraphy photographer Ali Al Baroodi. Baroodi discussed the development of his passion for photography, the various places he had traveled and photographed, and his experience of photographing Mosul both under ISIS and in the aftermath of ISIS occupation. He relayed his experience progressing from his phone camera in 2006 and 2007 to a professional Sony 30x Zoom after having the opportunity to photograph across Iraq, Europe, and the US.
When Mosul came under ISIS occupation in 2014, Baroodi took photos from the rooftop of his apartment, documenting the fall of Mosul in June 2014, the various blockades and cement buildings erected by ISIS, and military activity between various forces in the city. He photographed major developments in Mosul, including the bombing of the Mosul University and destruction of the ancient Assyrian archaeological wall. He described the stigma associated with photographers under ISIS, whose leaders would use GPS tracking to make arrests and execute photographers perceived to be spies.
After ISIS began losing ground, he rebuilt his apartment in January 2017 and began documenting the developments in his city in a way that would tell a story. He became a photographer for the Mosul Library campaign and had the chance to exhibit his photography at an open-air gallery at the university. Since then, he has helped organize a festival celebrating the cultural and religious diversity in Mosul and resumed his duties as a professor at Mosul University, which commenced its first post-ISIS academic year in March 2017. In addition to his photography and university duties, he also has an English-language “Cultural Café” show on social media in coordination with the International Media Organization.