Christian Werner – 74

Christian Werner


The Yezidi religion is one of the oldest. Since its founding years 74 genocides committed against them. The youngest and most systematic done by the IS terrorist militia. The Yazidis are more persecuted than other religious communities, because they are regarded as devil worshipers. This is because they believe in Tausi Melek, a fallen angel in the form of a peacock. Since the invasion of the IS terrorist militia in Iraq, hundreds of thousands Yazidis were uprooted and are on the run. Thousands of men and boys were shot and beheaded women abducted and sold at auction as sex slaves. In adverse circumstances they have erected makeshift shelters, where they found just enough room. Only a few have made it into the camps set up by NGOs. Most live in the reinforced concrete skeletons of unfinished houses, improvised in tents made of tarpaulins and branches or on the road.
They had no chance to prepare for the flight, nor to pack the essentials. Winter has come to Kurdistan and saps the forces of refugees who have no winter clothes or blankets to protect themselves against it. Until the beginning of the year 10,000 Yazidis were encircled in the Sinjar Mountains of the IS militia. Over 4 months, they fought with little food, little ammunition and weapons to survive until the Kurdish Peshmerga free fought a land corridor. With the story, I wish to draw attention to the situation of the Yazidis, who are the main victims of this conflict. Here I want to show a broad spectrum. The current life situation, the despair of the encircled, the struggle for survival, the war with all its horrors, the religion, the destruction of religion, individual fates and their background.




Christian Werner is a freelance multimedia/photojournalist based in Boitzum, Germany. As a teenager he developed his interest in photography while traveling to foreign countries.
In 2014 he graduated the photojournalism & documentary photography course at the University of Applied Sciences in Hannover. His main interests are social diversity and global political issues. The areas of interest is mainly the arabic world and culture.
Chris worked in various countries in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and South America.
His work has been exhibited internationally. He welcomes assignments local and overseas.
Since 2012 Christian is represented by agency Laif.

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Christian Werner

7 Responses to “Christian Werner – 74”

  • The Plight of the Yehzidi is truly worrying, no doubt. Very few news outlets give them much attention and what little they get is made up of snippets.(Al Jazeera has covered their plight better than most english speaking media)
    The captions are well written and convey information that helps the viewer understand the context of the images better.
    The Pictures themselves are well composed and dramatically lit, for the most part, and convey a sense of foreboding……so why doesn’t this essay work for me? (pictorially)
    I will study them more and see if an answer comes to me. Either way it is an important subject that should not lose any traction because of any perceived failings in its visual execution, which are only one persons subjective view anyway.

  • I agree with John, particularly about the excellent news coverage from Al Jazeera. There are some excellent photographs here and some that, while important and even essential in showing the daily life of the people, are less strong photographically. There is nothing wrong with Christian’s technique, it’s just that some subjects are more photographically interesting than others. I do find the photographs a little too dark and contrasty for my tastes, but that is just personal preference.

    What is not so obvious is the effort required, and the danger that must have been experienced, to be able to bring the essay to our attention. Thank you Christian, I hope your essay reaches those able to make a difference for your subjects.


  • Powerful and important work on an underreported story…..

    as PJ/Doc stories go, this completely works for me and is so compelling….maybe (?) what John and Mike may be referring to is the images themselves and sequencing conveys a real sense of menace and clausterphobia…a kind of visual and emotional suffocation…which made lead some viewers to have difficulty: there is little ‘breathing space’ in the images (though they are beautifully photographed with regard to composition and space/light/framing, etc) which made be difficult for some…

    for me, i look at stories for their ‘essence’ and here it is about this horrific struggle…my lament (photographically): more pictures….i find cutting short and fitting into the ‘norm’ of 25 pics frustrates me (that is my beef not a beef against Christian or BURN): I UNDERSTAND why it is cut to that…

    strong essential work that i hope is expanded and deepened…..

    and btw, Christian, you may be interested in watching this Documentary…I watched it a couple of months ago…

    keep up the fight! all the best!

  • ……so why doesn’t this essay work for me? (pictorially) My take is that the b&w treatment is a bit same same but not very different to too many other b&w “essays” and “diaries”
    The following are most of the b&w work on burn of late …….technique is all very similar

    Ekin Kucuk….. A Glimpse of Burn Diary
    James Whitlow Delano …..The Little People: Equatorial Rainforest Project
    Pablo Piovano………..The Human Cost of Agrotoxins
    Sebastian Liste………..An Intimate Pandemic
    Jacob Aue Sobol……Arrivals and Departures
    Javier Arcenillas……….Latidoamerica

    This doesn’t mean that there is no substance to the works but it does bring up the influence of retro apps and the hipsters.

  • I’m too lazy to write anything right now and that has been the case since this essay was put up. Bob Black pretty much expressed what I was thinking. I second his comment.

  • I too agree with Bob that it’s an important, well-shot essay.

    In a more general conversation about the merits of that type of work, I have a few questions concerning publishing options.

    First, is there a comprehensive written story to accompany this? As is the case with most of this type work, a casual observer would have no idea which specific people are suffering in crumbling buildings amid armed young men. Apart from the extremely rare iconic image that galvanizes public opinion by making people ask about the context in which it was taken, an well-researched and written story by an accomplished writer is necessary for any hope of education and change.

    Second, regarding the on-going debate about that style of black and white photography; does any general interest publication publish that sort of thing any more? I don’t mean that as a rhetorical question. I don’t know the answer, but it sure seems like color is what mostly gets published, although the biggest names can still get black and white in print.

    I ask because it is important for these types of stories to be known, and I think those who undertake them need to do everything they can to ensure that they are published and disseminated to the widest possible audience. Just not sure how best to accomplish that.

  • Notwithstanding the intrinsic substance of this and the other essays, it seems to me that the issue that Imants raises deserves discussion. Actually, it seems to me that there are several issues that arise. First, to what degree does the view of the images we see here look more “muddy” than they actually are? For example, some people feel that images posted on flickr look less clear than the original files. The only photographs that I’ve seen from all these series are some of the ones in Jacob Aue Sobol’s essay here, and the view in the essay here does look more muddy — indeed the Sobol pictures look better in the six videos of the series that can be see on the web. On the other hand, I commented on the “murky moodiness” and “uniform tonality” of the pictures in James Whitlow Delano’s essay. In the essay above, it seems to me, there are some processing issues: see, for example, the clouds in the sixth picture.

    Second, are the series listed by Imants really so similar in technique. Seems to me some of them are, but the high contrast sensibility of Jacob Aue Sobol it quite different from that of either James Whitlow Delano or that of Christian Werner.

    Third, to the degree that there is similarity of technique, is it really “retro”, or “hipster” for that matter. No sure that Imants means by that.

    Fourth, again, to the degree that there is a similarity of technique is that true only of the B&W essay and not the color essays. Seems to me that the look of some of the recent essay is at least equally, if not more, similar to each other.

    It would take a good of amount of effort to address these issues, but I’m interested in your views on this.

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