Camp Aqabat Jaber is a refugee camp located just outside of Jericho City. It sits beside a group of mountains and across from Jordan, near the Dead Sea. Camp Aqabat Jaber appears to be a farming community. There are farms located on both sides of the camp, where they produce most of their crops. On the side closest to the checkpoint, there is a cattle farm. Many donkeys, camels, goats, and horses graze in this part of Camp Aqabat Jaber.
I have spent about one month consistently visiting Jericho, always coming back to this part of town. I am drawn to the people that live there as well as the landscape. The color of the mountains and the deep blue sky along dirt paths under the scorching sun of the Judaen Desert provide a surreal experience for me. The way people interact with the landscape of Camp Aqabat Jaber is what I wish to photograph. They use their land as a resource to build their own community with the help of the residents living there. There are a few small stores and places to by cold food and groceries in the center of Camp Aqabat Jaber. Many people hangout at barber shops or local community centers to play pool, drink coffee, and smoke hookah. The simple life the people live interests me. I have always grown up in the city so being around farmland provided a change of pace.
One day I headed towards the outskirts of town, stumbling across a cucumber farm. There was a big pile of trash burning alongside the dirt path leading to the farm. A boy suddenly popped his head from behind some of the crops that were growing in the cucumber farm and waved to me. He started to walk my way when suddenly a group of boys also rise from behind the crops, accompanied by a donkey. He decided to help me onto the donkey, giving me a short ride around the farm.
My friend Matt (@Matt_Wong) captured a nice picture of me interacting with the boys at this scene. I put my hands up and had them throw some fists at me like I used to play as a kid. There is something about the youth within the areas I photograph that always keeps me interested. I suppose I channel my inner experiences of boyhood through my work. It has always been a returning theme in a lot of my pictures. I definitely will try my best to photograph all ages and genders, but the youth always seems to be the most alive from my point of view.
Photography is the one thing that allows me to be myself and do things the way I want to. I rarely take a picture nowadays where I am not interacting with the scene. I am engaged with the people that are with me, learning about them and the place they live in. Through interacting with strangers, I learn about the world from an entirely different perspective. It provides a different experience rather than reading about how a place is in a textbook. This drive to experience life from an outsider’s perspective keeps me entertained and gives my life purpose. Taking pictures is my way of having fun.
Follow me everywhere below: