Case Study: Ed Kashi


Ed Kashi is a famous photojournalist, film maker and Educator. He is best known for his documented works of social and political issues. Kashi’s work is known as “Engaging the world” and “Raising Awareness.” [1]. He has created many projects from his travels and documenting the world around him and his intimate encounters. Here are some of his well known projects;


Niger Delta Project:

The Curse of the Black and Gold documents 50 years of the oil industry in Niger Delta and gives an in-depth look at the cost of oil in West Africa. This series of photographs turned into a book called The Curse of Black and Gold, which is edited by Michael Watts who is a professor at the university of California and is an expert on the Niger Delta region. Oil in Niger Delta is the source of most of Africa’s oil and is the 11th largest producer of crude oil in the world. Ed Kashi documented the community conflicts, environmental degradation and daily struggles due to the damage that the oil causes. He also spent time travelling with armed insurgents of MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Nile Delta), standing for ‘Freedom’ as the country is captured like prisoners due to oil these people are blowing up the oil pipelines due to the trouble it was causing, however these people are seen as terrorists to the government.

It appears that corrupt governments are selling all the oil which is causing ecologically and environmentally damaged villages. Since oil was first drilled 50 years ago there has been a dramatic increase in poverty, violence and political turmoil. The country should be rich, however it seems that normal people are struggling as it is only the elite that have the power and money, Ed Kashi expresses this within his work.

“The deployment of oil wealth to purchase local political consent through massive corruption and state multiplication has probably prevented another war or state collapse. At the same time, it has fuelled a sort of dispersion and fragmentation seen in the hardening of local and ethnic identities, and, in the Niger delta, in the explosion of insurgent politics. All this has contributed to a profound sense of the unravelling – the un-imagining – of Nigeria as a nation.” The cost of oil, in short, has been nothing less than the cost of the nation’s soul. [4]




India’s Highways Project:

A five part documentary has been created documenting India’s Golden Quadrilateral Highway, the imagery was produced with ‘Talking Eye’s’ by Ed Kashi exploring the 3,633km national expressway. Ed follows truck drivers doing their deliveries on the road, learning about their lifestyle and the effects that modernisation is having on them.

India’s car population is vastly growing, especially as they have produced the worlds cheapest car. This has had a knock on effect as car ownership is now growing and in turn having considerable effects on the environment. There is a strong cultural divide in India as their governments aims is taking effect on the poorer people. Due to India’s under developed infrastructure and growing industrialisation, there are divisions in classes as more people, particularly the middle classes, are becoming more economically independent thus leaving the poor behind. This new industry is costly as the government are pushing for industrialisation in poorer areas, farmers and other lower classes are being left to struggle.

Here is Ed’s series of the documentation;




Protestant Community of Northern Island Project:

Ed Kashi and Andrew Ross (a reporter) went to Northern Island in 1988, to document ‘The Troubles’ of political conflict within neighbourhoods and record the local’s daily living. Ed was intrigued by the historical connection between the United States and Northern Island and the similar issues with working class Protestant kids and their Catholic neighbours, with whom they did not get along with.

A book was created on this project called No Surrender: The Protestants. This book provides an in-depth look at the Protestant’s neighbourhood to show the area’s of Belfast that were far from upper class.

During the 1980s there were severe violence and conflict that resulted in bombings, shootings from multiple mafias on both sides conflicted with each other, as well as security forces.




Madagascar Project:

Here is another environmental photography project created by Ed that documents the pleas of the Southeast costal community of the Malagasy people, as they struggle to hold onto and cope with the declining forests, water and fisheries. That are declining due to inequity of living standards and their source of living being slowly taken away, with no-one listening or trying to help the small communities that live there.

Ed captures the essence of the endangered  island and the people’s livelihoods and daily struggles to document with the aim to improve the conditions via awareness. Madagascar is classed as one of the world’s top three hotspots for biodiversity but also known as one of the poorest and most environmentally challenged in the world. In their fight, Malagasy farmers join newly farmers-turned-fisherman in large numbers to operate in balance with the oceans supply of food.

Kashi’s projects were also made for a body of work called ‘Earth’ which was commissioned by Prix Pictet, even raising money to plant more trees to help save this island and its people.

He stated;

‘I believe in the power of still images to change people’s minds,’ says photojournalist Ed Kashi. [8]


“I take on issues that stir my passions about the state of humanity and our world, and I deeply believe in the power of still images to change people’s minds,” he says. “I’m driven by this fact: that the work of photojournalists and documentary photographers can have a positive impact on the world. The access people give to their lives is precious as well as imperative for this important work to get done. Their openness brings with it a tremendous sense of responsibility to tell the truth but to also honour their stories.” [3]


It is clear that world social and political issues are on the forefront of Kashi’s work projects. He has documented real life in an extraordinary way, they appear almost otherworldly as though they have been staged, striking a nerve due to their rawness and emotion provoking aesthetic. I believe this to be an important side to photography as documentation and realness overcomes the need for fantasising and perceiving the world to be something that it is not.












Niger Delta:

[1] ED KASHI, (2016). Ed Kashi; represented by VII. [Online] Available from:                                                                                                              [Accessed: 04 March 2016]

[2] NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, (2016) Ed Kashi. [Online] Available from:                                                                                                                                  [Accessed: 04 March 2016]

[3] PRIX PICTET, (2016). Portfolios: Ed Kashi. [Online] Available from:                               [Accessed: 02 May 2016]

[4] THE GUARDIAN, (2010). Vital Oil: photographer Ed Kashi captures Nigeria’s toxic legacy. [Online] Available from:                                                                                                                                                     [Accessed: 02 May 2016]

[5] VII PHOTOGRAPHER, (2016) Ed Kashi Biography. [Online] Available from:                                                                                     [Accessed: 04 March 2016]


India’s Highways:

[6] VII PHOTOGRAPHER, (2008). Ed Kashi: India’s Golden Quadrilateral Highway. [Online] Available from:                                                                                                                                                     [Accessed: 02 May 2016]


Protestant Community of Northern Island:

[7] CRAVE, (2016). Secret Histories: Ed Kashi Northern Island in the 1980s. [Online] Available from:                                                                                                                                                   [Accessed: 02 May 2016]


Madagascar Project:

[8] THE GUARDIAN, (2010). Photographer Ed Kashi Puts Madagascar In the Frame. [Online] Available from:                                                                                                                            [Accessed: 02 May 2016]

[9] PRIX PICTET, (2016). The Global Award in Photography and Sustainability: Earth Commission. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: 02 May 2016]


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