Wall Street Journal photographer and designer Kurt Dietrich Wilberding traveled to Pakistan this past Spring to capture a more intimate side of life than what’s normally seen in the newspapers. For those seeking to add some nuance to their news coverage, his pictures are now on view at Brooklyn’s Fun Time Gallery through Dec. 4, 2009.
Kurt Dietrich Wilberding received his MFA at Ohio State University. In addition to the Journal, his images have appeared in New York Magazine, the BBC, and Gothamist. He currently lives in Brooklyn.
What originally took you to Pakistan?
I wanted to challenge myself photographically, and Pakistan struck me as a visually underreported country. Many photographers head either to India to cover the festivals, or to Afghanistan to cover the war. The more I read about Pakistan, its history and politics, the more intrigued I became.
When you were in Lahore, how disrupted were people’s daily lives by recent events?
Regardless of the increase in violence, people try to carry out their daily routine as best they can. I couldn’t tell if people in Lahore were avoiding places that were perceived as targets, but security was extremely tight both in the cities and along the surrounding highways. Everyone is frisked and wanded before stepping on buses, and military roadblocks were frequent. In general, Pakistanis are acutely attuned to national events. An explosion is Peshawar is emotionally felt in Lahore and vice-versa, in part because of the conspiracy theories that abound. Several Pakistanis in Lahore that I spoke with felt that India was financially behind much of the escalating violence in the Northwest Frontier Province.
What is missing from the news reports that we receive?
The severity of the country’s insufficient energy supply. Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, and Karachi all have daily revolving power outages. It’s surprising that a country with nuclear weapons cannot generate enough power to meet its population’s daily demand.
How do your creative methods differ in your news photography and your personal photography?
Compositionally, they are very similar. But stylistically they diverge. For my personal photography, I’m more apt to shoot with long exposures—it has a more painterly effect, more mood and mystery.
What are you working on now?
I’m still working on the Pakistan project. I will return to the country next fall.