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Ricardo García Vilanova (Spain)

The portfolio of 10 shots is a small representation of a much larger work that is unique in the world, as it shows the three capitals that formed the ISIS Caliphate (Sirte, Mosul, and Raqqa) during the fighting that took place in them in different years and their subsequent liberation and present situation. The final images are from 2018 in Mosul and Raqqa. There are also shots of other cities or zones where major battles took place, like Kobane, Sinjar, and Tell Hariri, among many others.

The work began in early 2012 (although I had been practicing as a photographer in Syria and Libya in 2011, from the start of both revolutions), in the city of Aleppo (Syria), where I took my first photos of ISIS. At that time, in the city, they were just a small part of what they would become and which would make them notorious around the world. The Syrian Civil War, which has generated the worst refugee crisis since World War II, was the platform for Islamic State. Although the seed of the movement dates back to 2003 in Iraq, the conflict in Syria allowed them to take power and create their self-styled Caliphate which, in addition to the main thrust in Libya, Iraq, and Syria, also had and has its area of influence in the form of terrorist groups in other countries, such as Nigeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Mali, among others, in addition to the systematic attacks that countries across Europe and the USA have suffered.
The equipment I use at present is FUJIFILM X-T2 with a single FUJINON XF10-24mmF4 lens (equivalent to 16-35 mm), and a small FUJIFILM XQ1 that I take as a back-up in case anything happens to the X-T2. The reason for choosing this camera is that it has a large 25mm wide-angle lens and can shoot photos in RAW.

From the outset of my career I’ve used a wide-angle lens only, because to me, when it comes to photojournalism and war photography especially -where pictures often have a tragic nature- the wide-angle lens wraps around and contextualizes the instant of the frame much better than any other one does, because our vision can take in almost 180 degrees on a horizontal plane and somewhat less vertically. In theory, this means that the scope of our eye could be the equivalent of a focal length of between 9 and 13 mm, but we must also assume that of these 180º we can only focus on a very small part.

Studies into the physics of the human body usually agree that the value of the focal distance which an image forms within the eye falls within the 22 to 24 mm range.

The move to a FUJIFILM X-T2 (I used to work with a FUJIFILM X-T1) came about because of the need for the space, weight, and functionality it provides without foregoing quality, speed, or noise at high sensitivities. For the sort of work I do, the ideal thing is to travel with as little weight and space as possible, and the appearance of these types of cameras gave me the chance to considerably reduce all that, as well as the functionality that the different direct access dials afford in the form of physical wheels that let me access core functions in the way that cameras used to do but still with the latest technology in terms of picture quality.

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