Photojournalist Hussein Baydoun, 26, was one of the first photographers to arrive at the scene of the twin suicide blast in Bir Hasan on November 19.

Currently a photographer for El-Nashra and fresh off a stint with Al-Jadeed's online section, Baydoun's now worked in the media business for seven years. sat down with the photojournalist to learn more about what it takes to work in a field wrought with danger and unexpected turns.

(A photo of Hussein Baydoun taken in Tripoli's Bab el Tabbeneh neighborhood in 2012. Photo courtesy of Hussein Baydoun.) You were one of the first media personnel to arrive at the scene of the suicide bombings at the Iranian Embassy, describe the scene for us.

Baydoun: I was in Barbour when I heard about the blast. My photographer friends and I are all set up on a WhatsApp Messenger group where we often communicate. It was there that I learned about the bombing at the Iranian embassy. I showed up 10 to 15 minutes after the second blast. It was total chaos: I saw people going in all directions, I saw dead people and dismembered bodies.

The police were pushing us away and people were angry at us for doing our job [taking pictures]. It's ridiculous how anyone with a smartphone can take all the shots they want, but once they see an official photographer, they're outraged and want to stop him from doing his job. I mean, if I didn't know someone from the dominant party at the blast scene (a reference to Hezbollah), I wouldn't have been allowed in. I stayed for almost half an hour to 45 minutes taking pics, but then went to transfer those pictures to the studios at Al-Jadeed. I then returned to the blast scene to take more aftermath shots. Have you ever seen anything like this before?

Baydoun: For me, two of the most shocking and difficult events that I've covered were the Ruwaiss bombing in August because of the violent scene, and Tripoli's clashes in May because it felt like I was in Iraq or some place else in the world. I've been to Somalia to cover the poverty, violence and famine there, but I mean, I was expecting it to be hard, so it wasn't much of a shock. But to get drunk in Hamra one night, and then the next day still be in Lebanon and get to Tripoli and feel like it's a war zone where kids are being taught to kill, and sectarian clashes are as crazy as those who are fighting for it, [was unbelievable].

(A photograph Baydoun took from the twin blasts in Bir Hassan. Photo courtesy of Hussein Baydoun) Forget your job as a photographer, what's it like being a human and having to witness some of the scenes you've shot?

Baydoun: This is a big debate that I know every photographer goes through at one point in his life. For the Iranian Embassy bombing, I saw pictures that couldn't pass and I made the decision in some cases either to delete the pictures I had to prevent them from being published or not to take the shot at all.

Everything that moves makes us emotional as human beings. I'm reminded of international photographer Kevin Carter who once took the picture of the dying child in Sudan with a vulture in the background. He was criticized for taking that picture, instead of helping her. He committed suicide shortly after winning the Pulitzer Prize for the photograph in 1993. I was telling my friends the other day that we might need a therapist as photographers because we've seen more than anyone has in the past few years. So where do you draw the line?

Baydoun: I personally think that the photographer is allowed to take crucial shots up to a certain extent. For example, taking a general view where there's a dead body somewhere in the frame or where only a part of the body shows, the hand maybe, or if its taken from behind, that's acceptable. But shocking pictures where the face shows or a focused shot on a dead body is not acceptable both on a moral and humanitarian level. What if this person's parents are watching? I don't want a scoop that bad. I remember when everyone was following the story of the kidnapped Lebanese in Azaaz (Syria). How many times did they confirm their deaths for the sake of a scoop? Can you imagine how those people's families felt about that? What do you hope to achieve with your photography?

Baydoun: I want to prove that we're not the 'terrorist land' that people elsewhere in the world perceive us to be. I always look for pictures that portray the ironic and contradictory nature of Lebanon, and how everything ends up culturally coexisting. What's the worst part about your job?

Baydoun: That we're not recognized and acclaimed as we might have been somewhere else in the world. Syndicates in Lebanon are always more political than anything else, and everyone works for his own interest. We don't have anyone to protect us, fight for our rights and at the end of the day we have day jobs and we can't keep following everything up and fighting for change when we know that we're going to be followed and hurt if we do.

When the Tunisian revolution started, a photographer was killed and the syndicate decided to start a strike and the rebels were threatened that their revolution wouldn't be covered unless security officials apologized and ensured the safety of media members. That's how powerful our work can be if we were backed by a strong syndicate.

In Lebanon, what our syndicate might only do is send us a message to notify us that someone's dad died so we could go to his funeral.

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