Benjamin Dix is a professional photographer and has worked as a Communications Manager for the UN and NGOs across Asia and Africa for the past 12 years. Ben was based in Vanni, Sri Lanka with the UN from 2004 until the UN evacuations in 2008. He has a BA in Political Geography of South Asia (SOAS 2002), an MA in Anthropology of Conflict and Violence (Sussex 2011) and is currently writing his Doctorate in Anthropology: Artistic Representation of Violence (Sussex).
In 2002 Benjamin founded PositiveNegatives to use multimedia and traditional forms of art to represent global conflict, humanitarian and migration issues to a wide and diverse audience. PositiveNegatives is building a portfolio of projects for clients such as the BBC, The Guardian, UN and Arts Council England
Are Internships necessary to secure a role in your sector?
For the Art sector getting any volunteering or work experience opportunity is a good way to learn how to communicate well with clients. My experience at the UN and with international media houses taught me how to use appropriate business language when engaging with people. When I was eighteen I worked as a trainee window dresser at Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) and also as an assistant photographer for a year where I learnt advertising photography. I then had the opportunity to work in India as a photographer where I used those skills. I was the 1st current SOAS student invited to exhibit my photographs at the Brunei Gallery of an exhibition of the Indian festival, Maha Kumbha Mela, in 2002.
What is the most interesting project you have worked on?
My current project is focused on the Syrian Refugee crisis. Many people’s experience of refugees in the past is that of people coming from different worlds, such as poverty stricken environments. When interviewing Syrians you find that they are people who have degrees, professional qualifications, businesses and many are very well positioned in society, but are now finding themselves as a refugee community. Our perceived security in this world is precarious. What has happened, and is happening in Syria has ramifications on the world. For more information please note the following events:
• 12 November. Launch of A Perilous Journey. The Guardian, London
• 12 November. Launch of A Perilous Journey. Nobel Peace Centre, Oslo
• 13 November. Panel Discussion, A Perilous Journey. Tronsmo Bookshop, Oslo.
What advice would you give to students?
After 20 years in photography and journalism and having worked with the BBC, the UN, various NGOs my key advice would be:
• Keep contacts alive: It is important to stay in touch with people. If you are looking for your work to be published regularly by international broadcasters, then you have to be present in people’s lives. Meet them, update them and get to know them…
• Your address book: It is your most important business tool. You can use your smart phone to run your business successfully
• Only produce quality work: When working with clients or business only put out high quality work. You want to build a transparent, trustworthy and professional reputation, as someone who produces work of a high standard and within time and budget constraints
• Don’t be scared of change and maintain your integrity in your work.