Photo Op

Photojournalist Salwan Georges documents refugee life in the world's far-flung corners

Black and white photo of Oakland University graduate Salwan Georges


icon of a calendarApril 25, 2018

icon of a pencilBy Jacob Walters

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Oakland University alumnus Salwan Georges, CAS '15, has come a long way since arriving in the United States from Iraq in 2004. Now, he’s telling the stories of other immigrants who look for better lives in America and around the world as a photojournalist for the Washington Post

In between assignments, we caught up with Georges to talk journalism at OU, storytelling, and what it's like creating pictures worth 1,000 words. 

How did your OU experience prepare you for work as a photojournalist?

To start, it helped with my English. When I arrived in America, I had a hard time communicating with my peers. But as time went on, I learned to become more fluent.

Oakland University didn’t introduce me to photojournalism, but I wouldn’t be where I am without mentors like Garry and Holly Gilbert in the Department of Communications at Oakland University. 

What do you enjoy the most about your work?

I like the change, and I am grateful for the opportunity. The experience for me is nice. However, I do miss Detroit since that’s where my family’s from.

What is your beat as a photojournalist? 

I do work with refugees, mainly those from Sudan and my home country of Iraq. I’m also working on a photo documentary involving refugees based in Detroit. I’m collaborating with James Estrin from the New York Times and Ed Kashi in Aspen, Colorado, to work with the Anderson Arts Ranch Arts Center mentorship. My goal with this project is to make an impact on my community.

Any advice for OU students wishing to turn their photos into a career? 

My advice for students who are thinking about photojournalism is to start being involved while in school. At OU, they have the opportunity to work at the student paper, The Post, and take photos for stories that students write. It’s really good practice. Also, you should start reaching out to the local papers for opportunities to freelance. 

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