di Brian McCarty
The children’s stories go untold; their perspectives are the least heard when adults discuss the costs of war. Pointing a camera at a child makes a powerful, emotional connection, but it’s not the same as seeing through their eyes, listening and interpret their stories.
Since 2011, Brian McCarty has worked with children from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip. Boys and girls, ages 8-12, are invited to become art directors for photographs, involved in the storytelling process.
In the sessions- run by a specialized art therapist who travels with Brian- children are invited to draw a story from their life. The drawings that they create are the beginnings of longer conversations with the onsite therapist, key to understanding the true meaning behind their artwork. Some important elements are buried in seemingly chaotic or even innocuous scenes. Others are shown directly in stark images of daily life in a warzone.
The playthings Brian finds are photographed on location, typically within the current living conditions of the child and often at the exact spot where described events occurred.
Rarely the children accompany Brian on the photo shoots. The recreated accounts are very often violent and bloody, and it would be irresponsible and unethical to immerse a child into these scenes outside of a controlled, therapeutic setting. When looking through the viewfinder, these imagined worlds can be all-too-real for young eyes. The fears and traumas affecting children who have survived war are reflected through the life given to their toys.
Brian McCarty is a Los Angeles based photographer known for his unique work with toys, where he's worked in-camera with minimal postproduction.
Since graduating Parsons School of Design in 1996, Brian has worked for and with some of the biggest names in the toy industry, including Mattel, Hasbro, Disney, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon. His unique photography has not only driven millions in sales, it has also earned wide-recognition and praise within the art world. Brian’s work has been exhibited by museums and universities, acquired by prominent collections, and covered by The New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, La Repubblica, Reuters, and countless other publications around the world. He’s appeared on CNN, Al-Jazeera, PBS News Hour, and BBC World Service. Brian has earned a Fulbright, grants from the U.S. Department of State, and indirect support from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has lectured at the Carter Presidential Library, New School, Sesame Workshop, American University of Beirut, and TEDx. He’s seen his work used as a billboard in Times Square and stolen by ISIS for online propaganda.