It’s not all photography

We have asked a selection of Ian Parry alumni to reflect on what it meant to them to win the Ian Parry Scholarship. This week award-winning photographer and 2010 alumnus Marcus Bleasdale explains how the Scholarship transformed his career.

IPS: With which work did you win the Ian Parry Scholarship?

MB: I was covering the war in Sierra Leone and worked together with the community in Freetown who had been victims of the RUF policy of amputation. The documentary was about the lives of the families in the amputee camp.


© Marcus Bleasdale / IPG 2003 Sierra Leone Amputees The MSF team operates at the Hospital in Freetown.

© Marcus Bleasdale


IPS: How did winning affect your professional career?

MB: It transformed it. I was still studying and immediately I had an assignment to go back and cover the war focusing on the impact diamonds were having on the conflict. It was published in the Sunday Times Magazine and I have been working on the impact conflict minerals have in conflict for the past 17 years as a result.

IPS: What are you working on right now?

MB: I have been working on the conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) for Human Rights Watch and National Geographic Magazine for the past 4 years. In addition, I have just completed a Masters program at the University of Cambridge and the dissertation was on the causes of conflict in CAR. So, it’s not all photography. Photography is a great tool we can use to engage, educate and inform. The more we understand about conflict, the more effective our message becomes.


© Marcus Bleasdale / IPG 2003 Amputees of Sierra Leone Bintu 8 and Damba 9 in the MSF camp in Murrytown.

© Marcus Bleasdale


IPS: What advice do you have for young photographers who enter this year?

MB: ENTER! This is the single most important photography award for young photojournalists. It transformed my career and many other photographers. Just look at the list of people who have been awarded the Ian Parry. It is incredible what they have all gone on to achieve in Ian’s memory.