Hats and Leaves: Staying Undercover

Anas Aremeyaw Anas

Anas Aremeyaw Anas for The Atlantic

Anas Aremeyaw Anas is an investigative journalist based in Ghana. His work has included posing as mentally unstable to infiltrate a mental institution, and getting inside a Bangkok prison dressed as a priest to meet a Ghanaian drug trafficker. One of my favorite clients, The Atlantic asked me to photograph him during his brief stopover in Washington, DC, this past August. The nature of his work means that the portraits I made of him couldn't show his face. This isn't the first time I've had to honor this request, but it hasn't become any easier to pull off in a meaningful, effective way. Fortunately, Anas was game for pretty much anything, and came prepared with a pile of hats to cover his face. What followed was a wonderful couple hours of collaborative photo making, as we walked around DC trading ideas about photo setups, the future of journalism (bright!) and the new media renaissance of investigative journalism. I'm particularly happy with this series of images, which pivots a bit from my usual portraiture work, and thankful to have made the acquaintance of such an important force, and really nice guy, in journalism today. I highly recommend Nicholas Schmidle's story on Anas entitled "Smuggler, Forger, Writer, Spy." This piece has unfortunately been dramatically edited down from the 6000 word draft I originally read, but still captures Anas's daring spirit and ferocious determination to cast light in dark places.

Anas Aremeyaw Anas
Anas Aremeyaw Anas
Anas Aremeyaw Anas