Vakil Bazaar, Shiraz, Iran

Gallery | Jo Currie looks beyond the lens

Photographer Jo Currie has spent many hours traversing the globe, capturing incredible images of its inhabitants and their environments. Here she reflects on her experiences.

How did you start out as a photographer?
I remember taking a photo of a sea lion on the Kaikoura Coast as a kid with my parents’ camera and being so excited when they FINALLY got the film developed. I’ve also been obsessed with National Geographic for years and always wanted to go to all these amazing places with so much colour, culture and raw beauty. Work-wise I pretty much started out photographing all my friends’ weddings.

You’ve travelled a lot in Africa and the Middle East. What are your thoughts on the current conflicts in Iraq and Gaza?
I definitely have a lot of thoughts on this but not entirely sure if they make sense even to me. All I know is it’s an extremely devastating situation, that seems caught in a vicious cycle. [Re Israel/Palestine], from what I have read, and what little I understand, my sympathies definitely lie with the Palestinian people, and I personally think they should be able to live in freedom, not as prisoners in their own country. The saddest thing is that the next generation is growing up shaped by a legacy of hatred and I can’t see things changing in the foreseeable future.

You’ve also visited a lot of places where poverty is the rule, not the exception. What have you learnt from visiting these places, and interacting with local communities?
Some of the happiest and most hospitable people I have met are those with very few material possessions. Most of my travels only really skim the surface in terms of understanding poverty, and my camera becomes like an ’emotion’ filter of sorts. I am drawn towards poorer countries because of their raw beauty, if that makes sense. Everything seems more vibrant, and I feel more alive. In saying that, I have also been incredibly privileged to have worked with World Vision in several developing countries. It’s amazing being able to experience the reality of life in those places, but also to see the positive changes that can be brought about with a bit of support.

Are there any experiences that stand out for you?
So many! Sharing a cup of tea with a family who spoke no English in Syria; looking at mummified pilgrims in an 11th Century church in Ethiopia; walking with lions in Zimbabwe. All I know is, I’m bloody lucky!

Is it tricky travelling and working on your own in countries where that can be a little more risky, particularly as a woman? How do you get around it?
I don’t really travel on my own. I might do a few days, but I usually go on an organised small group tour. I wish I was more adventurous, but that works for me!

Jo Currie is a New Zealand-based wedding and travel photographer. Visit for more of her work, and pricing information.