My Name is Michael Turek, I am British-American photographer based in New York. I received my B.A. from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2004. My photography focuses on documentary assignments for clients including The Financial Times, The Guardian, The New York Times and The Paris Review. My book, CONTRAIL, published by Roman Nvmerals, is included in the MoMA Archives and Library.
My first photographic monograph, SIBERIA was published by Damiani in 2020.
Kodak Portra 400 has been my film of choice for over a decade. It offers me the greatest flexibility and the most appealing grain and color, consistent across a huge variety of situations. Portra 400 has come to define my entire body of work throughout my career.
Writer Sophy Roberts and I worked together in Iraq on an assignment for the Financial Times just ahead of the 20-year anniversary of the US-led invasion.
Over the course of two weeks we made a 400-mile overland journey from Basra to Baghdad, traveling between the Euphrates and the Tigris, visiting the ancient sites of Mesopotamia, asking what’s left to see, and if it’s even possible for a tourist in Iraq.
The reporting covered the history of tourism in Iraq from the late 19th century when Mesopotamia became part of the “exotic” grand tour favored by Europeans and wealthy Americans. We looked at the state of things now, with rising interest from tour companies for whom “off limits” tourism has carried less and less stigma since the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Martyr’s Monument in Baghdad, opened in 1983 in honour of victims of the Iran-Iraq war.
What we experienced was a country of extremes, with a genuine desire to get tourism moving.
The people were extraordinarily open to why we were there, and pleased we were looking at their country through a different lens. The story is a detailed report on the nascent return of a tourism industry, and why it carries hope: young guides in training, UNESCO’s urban reconstruction of historic Basra, the Marsh Arab attempts to bring ecotourism into their region.