Published April 10, 2019
Photos by David Degner, 2018 Flash Forward Winner
LBR. What aroused your curiosity for metaphysical dualism?
DD. This idea really solidified after the coup in Egypt when an image of Mary was reported to be crying and the Army went to the church and confiscated it. At the same time Sisi was talking about his dreams and that they were signs he would come to power. I quickly found other moments in history where miracles played an important role in Egyptian politics. My second bachelors was in philosophy so I really respect people who have a different understanding of the world than me and like to force myself into close proximity with them to challenge my own beliefs.
LBR. How do you go about photographing the intersection of the tangible and the intangible, especially given that the latter is rarely visible?
DD. If the spiritual world and physical world are interacting than there must be a place where that occurs, like the space between the hand of the sheikh and the boys head.
LBR. How has this work, Modern Miracles, shaped how you approach the world around you? and photography?
DD. It was the largest project I’ve worked on and took many years so I grew a lot while shooting it and still am learning as I now try to make it into a book. But it really gave me the confidence that I can respectfully go out and do long term projects.
LBR. In your bio, you state that your greatest achievement is editing and mentoring photographers for Panorama, a platform dedicated to showcasing the best of Egyptian photojournalism, why is that your biggest accomplishment?
DD. The revolution in Egypt inspired a lot of young Egyptian photographers that with the help of some great mentors like Randa Shaath have been doing amazing work. Panorama was one of the stepping stones many of them used to get their projects published and get their work seen on an international stage. Now it lives on under the leadership of Sima Diab.
After studying photojournalism at WKU and interning at several newspapers David Degner made the jump and moved to Egypt. He’s been working around the Middle East for the past 9 years.
Laurence Butet-Roch, a member of the Boreal Collective and Muse Projects, is a freelance writer, photo editor, photographer and educator based in Toronto, Canada committed to encouraging critical visual thinking. Her words have appeared in the British Journal of Photography, The New York Times Lens Blog, TIME Lightbox, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Polka Magazine, PhotoLife, BlackFlash and Point of View. She is the editor of Flash Forward Flash Back.