Kamel Jaber studied the principles of photography while working for Associate Press (AP) and Al Nahar newspaper. His published photography includes a wide range of nature photographs. He participated in various expositions in numerous regions in Lebanon and has exhibited extensively in Beirut . One of Kamel’s most notorious photographs was taken on February 26, 1999 of a Lebanese youth destroying electrical cables in Arnoun in protest. This photograph was published on the front page of newspapers and magazines throughout Lebanon , the Arab world and Europe . The president of Lebanon , Emil Lahood, exhibited the photograph in the welcoming room of the presidential palace until the end of his reign. Currently, Kamel is the president of Al Akhbar Newspaper in South Lebanon .
Since childhood Kamel Jaber has been passionately drawn to photography. In his early years photography was a leisure pursuit. He often photographed archeological sites in his motherland and continues to do so to this day as often as possible. Lebanon’s history of recurrent wars and the damaging toll war takes on the human psyche cultivated Kamel’s interest in photography. His camera gave him the tool he needed to penetrate the psychological walls created by fear and distrust.
Kamel claims, “The July 2006 war was the most risky and dreadful period of my career. I could have easily become a casualty. The bombs were showered from Israeli airplanes in numerous regions in South Lebanon and Al Dahiyet. I stayed with my family in Nabatiye for 27 days. When I became aware that my family was in a hot spot I relocated them to Saida. Though-out this time my family and I experienced extreme misery and danger.
Inner political conflicts do not influence my decision to photograph. I perform my job objectively, in spite of my personal beliefs. I photograph situations that oppose my moral values; however, I won’t take photographs that reveal the Israeli temperament. Some leaders think that photographers belong to political parties and ban them from entering different zones. I do not take political sides.”
According to Kamel Jaber, “An ideal photographic image should emphasize the moment the event occurs, timing is of the essence. Moreover, an effective photo should accentuate a deeper meaning, rather than the shallow beauty that we witness every day.”
He deems the camera as an extension of his self and always has it with him. In his opinion, “The camera is essential for uncovering the truth. Although the camera is of primary importance, the eye of the photographer surpasses the value of the camera. The eye selects the subject matter and determines the timing. Technological advances light up the world of photography. Experience influences a photographer’s progress in the field.”
Kamel perceives his role as, “…seizing a momentous message and delivering it to the world. Lending a hand to injured and wounded people is not my responsibility. I have not been presented with the situation where I have had to choose whether or not to help someone or to photograph, but I believe taking photographs is the priority. Some people accuse photographers of being insensitive and numb since they don’t help victims. Without photos life is vague and ambiguous. Photos unveil reality and hold more weight than words. I don not impose my morals and values into my photographs or even at the time I am photographing. I can not change reality and I must remain neutral. My goal is to reveal the agony and suffering of people. Photos summarize events. They serve as trace memories in history and expose the ultimate truth.”
As a Lebanese photographer Kamel has a specific message for Lebanese youth, “Lebanon has a broad range of astounding natural and archeological sites. Let us invest in these sites and save them from further damage. Additionally, it is mandatory that we preserve undistorted photographic images.”
• Place of birth: South Lebanon , Nabatiye, Hay Al Bayad
• Date of birth: October 20, 1963
• Agency employment: Al Nahar Newspaper, Al Nabatiye (Reporter and Photographer) 1987-1999
Al Nide Newspaper (Reporter and Photographer) 1987-1990
ICN Television (Reporter and Photographer) 1993-1994
Al Kifah Al Arabi Newspaper (Reporter and Photographer) 1997-2003
Al Safir Newspaper 2000-2006
Sowt al Shaeeb Station (Reporter) 1987-to present
Reuters Agency (Reporter and Photographer) 1993-to present
Al Akhbar Newspaper 2006-to present
• Length of Career: Since 1987