Marcus Bleasdale on Shock and Change

Marcus Bleasdale on Shock and Change

“It’s not the individual photograph, it’s what you do with it, and who you engage with it, that makes it powerful.”—Marcus Bleasdale

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A boy’s hope for a normal life is as tenuous as his shelter in a camp for displaced people near the Nyiragongo volcano, from the October 2013 National Geographic story “The Price of Precious.”

Marcus Bleasdale has been a witness to war, a witness to heartbreak, and a herald for change. For more than ten years, he has photographed human rights abuses and conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that are centered around minerals and natural resources used in the production of technology. “Whether we use them in our mobile phones or whether we use them in computers…we’re part of these wars, we create these wars due to the demands that we have within our own societies,” says Bleasdale. He uses the camera as a tool to bring these issues directly to people’s computer screens and kitchen tables in an effort to spark change. Bleasdale’s work in the DRC has won numerous awards and has contributed to policy change from entities such as the United States Senate and House of Representatives, the United Nations, and the Houses of Parliament in the United Kingdom.—Spencer Balakar, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This video portrait was produced by National Geographic magazine in partnership with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. It is part of an ongoing series of conversations with the photographers of the magazine, exploring the power of photography and why this life of imagemaking suits them so well. Learn more about the making of the series and watch the full trailer here.

View more of Marcus Bleasdale’s work on his website.

Video Production Credits
Photographer: Marcus Bleasdale
Producers: Pamela Chen, NGM
Chad A. Stevens, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Associate Producer: Elyse Lipman, NGM
Editor: Spencer Bakalar, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Camera and Sound: Spencer Millsap, NGM, Shannon Sanders, NGM