I met with Giles Duley in the late summer of 2012, having seen his speech on one of my regular visits to the TED website. I found it deeply touching, and was delighted to see that TED named his talk as one of their favourites of 2012.
Giles had started his professional life as a fashion and music photographer, but despite the superficial glamour of his work had always felt unfulfilled, as if something were missing. It was this nagging doubt that led him to give up photography completely and work in care. Here, he began to work with a severely autistic child called Nick. It was in his attempts to relate Nick’s experience of autism through a series of photos that Giles found his true calling – to tell untold stories through images.
His new line of work took Giles around the globe, following victims of hardship everywhere from Ukraine to South Sudan to Bangladesh. He went on to document the experiences of an American unit in Afghanistan, and whilst embedded with them as they were out on patrol, Giles stepped on an IED and lost both legs and his left arm. The horror of this moment saw him transformed in an instant from the chronicler of other people’s hardship to the subject of his own battle against the odds. In 2012, after 18 months in hospital, he returned to his work of telling other people’s untold stories, but also made it his mission to tell his own – to demonstrate that losing your limbs doesn’t end your life.
October 2012 saw Giles return to the scene of his accident in Afghanistan. In February Channel 4 will be showing a documentary following him on his return journey, and the Observer will be publishing Giles’ own photos of the trip in the same month.
To find out more about Giles Duley, or to book him as a keynote speaker for your conference or event, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.