Video stills from the project Dastan, 2010 by Amak Mahmoodian


Photography is a powerful and ubiquitous means of communication, from newspapers, magazine covers, advertising campaigns and billboards, to the rise of image sharing social media platforms. Images have played a pivotal role in how we have come to understand ourselves and the world.

As the conflict in Ukraine unfolds in real time on social media, we have seen a recent outpouring of support for Ukrainians seeking refuge in the United Kingdom.

This panel discussion seeks to ask questions about the role images have played in our understanding of migration and asylum seeking in the UK, the dominant narratives that prevail and the counter narratives that emerge. Most importantly we will discuss the impact these narratives have on individuals, families and communities settling in the United Kingdom. This panel discussion is for anyone interested in this subject but particularly will look at visual strategies for those working in refugee support services or the media reporting on these issues.


12.30pm Lunch/Buffet

1.30pm3.30pm – Panel discussion



Part of Refugee Week 2022.


Contributor biographies:

Jess Crombie

Jess Crombie is a researcher and scholar working as a Senior Lecturer at UAL, and as a consultant for the development and humanitarian sector working with organisations such as UNHCR, Red Cross Save the Children and the DEC. In both contexts Jess Crombie utilises almost two decades as a senior leader in the charity sector to explore documentary image making and ethics and find practical ways to navigate this complex area. Her research focus is investigating the potential for power shifts by seeking out the opinions and ideas of the people who share their stories with INGOs around both process and portrayal.

Jess Crombie commissioned and co-authored the ground-breaking research  The People in the Pictures, and founded and now co-chairs the Bond sponsored ‘People in the Pictures working group‘, set up to bring about sector wide change towards more ethical practises in the creation and use of images of poverty.

Amak Mahmoodian

Amak Mahmoodian was born in Shiraz, Iran and lives in Bristol, UK. Amak’s work questions notions of identity and home, bridging a space between personal and political. Through her journey she explores the effects of exile and distance on memory, dreams and daily life. In 2015, she completed a practice-based doctorate in photography at the University of South Wales, having previously studied at the Art University of Tehran. Working with images, poems and archives she looks for the lyrical realities frames in the photographs. Amak has shown her work extensively and won numerous awards.

She has published two books Shenasnameh in 2016 with RRB Photobooks/ICVL Studio and Zanjir in 2019 with RRB Photobooks. She recently won best photo/textbook 2020 at the Rencontres Arles, France.

Daniel Trilling

Daniel Trilling is a journalist and has reported extensively on refugees in Europe. His work has been published in the New Humanist, London Review of BooksGuardianNew York Times and others, and won a 2017 Migration Media Award. His first book, Bloody Nasty People: the Rise of Britain’s Far Right, was longlisted for the 2013 Orwell Prize. He published Lights In The Distance: Exile and Refuge at the Borders of Europe in 2018.  He lives in London.

Maz Saleem

Maz Saleem is a British Pakistani activist and campaigner born in Birmingham, West Midlands. Maz has been tirelessly campaigning against unjust wars, Islamophobia and racism for the last seven years. She is the daughter of the late Mohammad Saleem who was stabbed in an Islamophobic and racially motivated murder in April 2013. His killer, Ukrainian national Pavlo Lapshyn, went on to detonate three bombs near mosques in Walsall, Tipton and Wolverhampton in June and July and was making more in his flat before being arrested by counter-terrorism police. He was sentenced to a minimum of 40 years in prison.

Maz’s father’s murder was a turning point for her in wanting to raise awareness about the unprecedented rise of Islamophobia and racism in Britain and across the world because “tomorrow it could be someone else’s father, mother, brother or sister who is murdered or attacked for simply looking visibly Muslim”. Maz has written for a variety of publications including the Independent, Stop the War Coalition, 5Pillars and contributed to the report produced by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), Britain’s largest Muslim umbrella body representing more than 500 affiliated mosques, charities and schools, calls for the government to adopt a radically new approach. Titled “Our Shared Future: Muslims and Integration in the UK,” the report, was presented in parliament, showcases more than 30 diverse voices on integration in Britain and calls on the government to take on new stances, including backing “equal integration.”

Maz has delivered anti-racist workshops in schools and campaigned against the unjust ‘War on Terror’, which she links to rising Islamophobia around the world’. Maz has appeared on the BBC, Channel4, Channel 5 and RT discussing racism, Islamophobia, the refugee crisis and calls for unity and peace. She is also known for her solidarity and humanitarian aid trips in the UK, Middle East and across Europe to provide emergency essentials for refugees and migrants. More recently Maz has presented documentaries and interviews on hate crime and the ‘hostile environment’, in the UK. Maz is also one of the key campaigners and organisers for the official ‘Justice4Shukri’, campaign. Maz will be launching an educational website addressing Islamophobia in memory of her father called Education for Peace in remembrance of Mohammed Saleem.

Shannon Ghannam

Shannon Ghannam is the Global Education Director at Magnum Photos, responsible for the celebrated agency’s educational programming globally, including the online learning platform Magnum Learn and the Beyond Magnum series of lectures. She is currently seconded to The Magnum Photos Foundation, the UK based foundation of Magnum Photos, with a remit of amplifying the positive social impact possible through photography and photographic education.

Previously she managed Content Strategy and Development at Reuters, working to showcase on multiple platforms the agency’s multimedia content. Shannon has collaborated on numerous photographic books, international exhibitions and multimedia projects including the Emmy award winning photojournalism app Reuters The Wider Image. Shannon has worked in various roles during a 20 year career including Screen Labs, Night Contact photography and multimedia festival, Australian Associated Press (AAP), The Australian Photojournalist Journal, The National Archives of Australia as well as developing a year long collaborative portraiture project with refugee communities for the Australian Red Cross. She studied at the Queensland College of Art in Brisbane, Australia where she graduated with First Class Honours in Photography.

Rossana Leal

Rossana Leal is the Founder and Director of the Refugee Buddy Project. Winner of the 2019 Women on The Move Awards ( Migrants Organise/UNHCR)  for exceptional contributions to UK society.

Rossana Leal and her family fled Chile in 1976 when she was nine years old after her father was detained by the Pinochet regime. Having been resettled by UNHCR from Argentina, she always remembers the warm welcome that the family received from the small mining village in Scotland – with a party, bagpipes and toys for the children, and the coal shed that winter remaining stocked by generous villagers. This was her inspiration years later when, moved by the plight of Syrians arriving in Europe, she set up the Refugee Buddy Project in Hastings. Wanting to recreate the welcoming environment she had experienced, Rossana pairs East Sussex locals with refugees, and together they share meals, visit local sites and festivals, run sewing groups, driving lessons and children’s activities. Rossana’s work has created a community of more than two hundred people who are forming new friendships and providing hope, as refugees build a new life in the UK.

Rossana is enacting her vision of pushing back and transforming the hostile environment for migrants and refugees in the UK. In Rossana’s own words, “When future generations see what was happening in the UK at this time, they will ask did you resist or did you collaborate?”

She is an experienced Project Manager in the delivery of government funded education and training programmes. She has a degree in Spanish Latin American Studies & Women’s Studies and a Masters in Health Education and Promotion.