Hi, my name is Robert "Haji Memphis" King. I'm a photographer and videographer from Tennessee, but I've documented almost every major conflict since the Bosnian War in the early 90s. I don't have any formal training in journalism, but I dove headfirst in to cover the conflicts in Chechnya, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iraq, Mexico, and Haiti.

I've spent much of the past year documenting the prolonged and bloody civil war in Syria. In my past three trips into the war-torn city of Aleppo, I've covered the urban conflict between the Free Syrian Army and Assad's military, the bombing of civilian hospitals, and the massive, massive loss of life among Syrian children.

Thank you so much for this opportunity. I'll be answering questions about what I've seen in Syria, and whatever else you might want to know about what I've learned from witnessing almost 20 years of major conflicts and wars.

Proof: https://twitter.com/Thefotoking/status/274544645688680448

Update: I've got to go now, but thank you very much for all the questions.

You can see my reportage in VICE's Ground Zero Syria series here http://www.vice.com/ground-zero/ and find my photographs in VICE's November Syria Issue http://www.vice.com/read/the-man-who-was-there-0002345-v19n11

Comments: 723 • Responses: 68  • Date: 

GOFGOF304 karma

No questions. Just want to let you know that you are a hero. You bring truth to an ignorant world and humanity needs more people like yourself.

ImRobertKing164 karma

Thank you.

ZeeLeo254 karma

How do you unwind after seeing first-hand some of the worst atrocities human beings are capable of? Is it hard to sleep at night?

ImRobertKing814 karma

I spend time out in the woods and look for quiet spots. If that doesn't work I drown my sorrows in alcohol.

unbeautifulgame235 karma

Thanks for doing this Robert, incredibly interesting to hear from someone who does your job.

Given the deaths of those two war correspondents during the Libyan revolution, do you ever wonder if your work is worth your life?

ImRobertKing1348 karma

Yes. Every time we go out there is the reality that it could be our last story. But if we give up our profession, recording, holding powers accountable with our recordings, the bad guy wins. So the death of our colleagues need to be remembered and never forgotten but we shouldn't resign to our homes out of intimidation.

heylookitspoop180 karma

Ever have a moment of true terror? a moment where you thought you might not make it home?

ImRobertKing387 karma

Yes. From Afghanistan to Iraq to Chechnya. Kidnapped once in Afghanistan, once in Iraq, both times managed to escape. Happy to be alive.

alexthefilmer159 karma

How the hell were you able to escape?

ImRobertKing577 karma

Colleagues, friends. One guy heard about me and our captors had went to go get a fatwah at the local mosque and a friend of mine, from Palestine, heard about our predicament in Fallujah. The captors left us locked in rooms guarded by ten year old kids. We didn't know that. Our Palestinian guy came in and told the kids to go away and the kids let us out. He brought some fighters from the area and they freed us, we went to the imam and the imam gave us free passage out of Fallujah.

mzrodgers150 karma

What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions of the conflict in Syria? And why don't you think the US has lost interest in this story?

ImRobertKing278 karma

I think the biggest misconception of this story is that its a bunch of foreign jihadis coming in to establish military training bases inside Syria. Most of the fighters are Syrian, who formed units after the demonstrators in Syria were fired upon, detained and tortured. The US never had any interest in the story. they're so far behind they might not have a seat at the table once Bashar Assad is overthrown.

mzrodgers75 karma

Thanks for the thoughtful response! What do you think Syria will look like 12 months from now? And how will the outcome affect the (non)stability of the region?

Also, kudos on putting your life on the line to bring light to this story. We need more people to pay attention.

ImRobertKing130 karma

Thank you for watching. 12 months from now I can see Assad gone and the last Russian vessel departing its only port outside of Russia. I can see some instability in Jordan as a result and more of a military presence on the Turkish border with Syria and some potential of Civil War in Lebanon.

bob625115 karma

Do you think that the recent internet shutdown will have a devastating impact on the flow of information out of the country, or will foreign reporters such as yourself be sufficient?

ImRobertKing174 karma

no. It is very dangerous when large parts of the country have no means of communication. It affects not only the journalists, but everyone's ability to document and record, share, the numerous war crimes being committed.

LeonJones54 karma

how do you send out your pictures/videos now that there is no internet? Do you have a satalite conneciton?

ImRobertKing111 karma

There's always Internet. and if there is none, you have to travel to Turkey or Lebanon and get close to the border to transmit on their celltower signals.

samirmeziab87 karma

Based on your recent experiences with the FSA, have you seen an abrupt growth in popularity with the FSA among Syrian citizens with each day's coming violence? Basically, have they become supported more or less by the people you were exposed to?

I am a college freshmen writing a research paper on the War/FSA. I'm a big fan of yours. I am also a half Syrian American. My father grew up in Damascus and currently our Syrian relatives are in hiding because their houses were burned by the Syrian Army, and several of my cousins and uncles have been captured on "suspicion of terrorism" and never returned, or returned tortured. I just want to thank you for covering this conflict. I believe you are one of the people collectively responsible for the exposure of this war to the western world. Thanks for risking your life in an effort which could ultimately save thousands.

ImRobertKing92 karma

Thank you for your kind words. Yes, the FSA are the only ones saving lives aside from doctors and the only ones fighting against Assad. In the bigger cities there is a love/hate relationship in that they are scared and don't know what the end result will be when Assad has fallen.

Ruddiver81 karma

Why do you think Assad is fine with destroying his own country? I have a hard time fathoming that, that he is bombing his own people, and that cities like Damascus and others will never be the same.

ImRobertKing195 karma

I think Assad was given his power by his father and never earned the support of the people. He's angry with the people for not supporting his perceived entitlement to the country. Because of his anger and lack of respect towards Syria, he feels its OK to destroy all historical points of interest and even try to eradicate his non-supporters.

tragic-waste-of-skin73 karma


ImRobertKing129 karma

Yes. Every day that passes.

tragic-waste-of-skin49 karma


ImRobertKing142 karma

I would say by springtime Assad's inner circle with crumble and his options will become less available and he'll be forced to make a decision on relinquishing his grip on power and hopefully in 24 months time he will be in the Hague tried for war crimes against humanity.

pingish67 karma

Don't know anything about you, but I want to care.

What's the top thing we should know about the Syrian conflict and why should I care?

ImRobertKing207 karma

Top thing you should know is that it started after two children were caught writing graffiti on a wall that was telling Assad to step down. The children were beaten to near death. Shortly after that, people around the country began to gather and protest against the regime. Assad ordered that his military fire on the protesters and many of the soldiers refused. And that was how the Free Syrian Army was founded. And you should care because right now it has escalated to a level of ethnic cleansing.

backseatfreestyle64 karma

Hi Robert, firstly thank you for the IAma I've been following you closely since I saw the VICE trailer. Been looking forward this all week.

When you started out in Bosnia another journo said you had an 'aura of bad luck'. Do you think that was bullshit? Is it still around today?

Have you ever gone back to Bosnia or Chechnya and caught up with some of the subjects? Is it better to let sleeping dogs lie?

In the latest Vice piece, where the hospital was bombed, it looked like you could have done some amazing shots. Where is your personal line between documenting the event/situation and being a participant? Would you have felt like a dick just going up to some dazed guys who've just been bombed yet would have made great pictures. Do you think that there is such a thing as 'war porn'? ie people not really empathizing with the subject but just enjoying the combat shots.

With years of experience in war zones, do you ever worry about becoming numb or apathetic about the scenes you're capturing? On the flipside, do you experience any PTSD or survivors guilt when you come back home (knowing the war's still going on).

What do you search for in your photographs? Is it to capture 'truth'? Is it to report? Both? (sorry it's a bit of a vague question and better said verbally).

How do you feel going into situations where there's a good a chance of you dying? Do you have a peace with the possibility of death? Or is it like a constant 'fuck you i've got me and my family to look after'.

How do you not end up like Austin Tice? He was an ex-marine but the army still kidnapped him. Is it just a roll of the dice game?

What is something you wish someone told you when you were starting out?

What advice would you give to someone looking into war photography/reporting from war zones?

I thought of joining the army reserves (non NATO country). Do you think that would be a good way to get medical/survival training and so that I can handle it when I'm embedded with rebels for months on end? I worry that I would be indoctrinated by military thought and lose my objectivity.

What is the best way a young journalist can make contacts? You got contacts through activist groups right - who do you know who to trust?

Sorry for the long questions. Thank you again for all your work and I wish you the best of luck.

ImRobertKing112 karma

Journalists will believe in whatever they want to believe in in dangerous places. I carry a tin coin with an Angel relief on top and that's my good luck protector on my last trip in Syria.

I've never met Austin Tice and I hope that one day soon he will be free and united back with his family and back in the field working.

Something I wish someone told me when I was starting out? I don't think there's one thing they could tell you. There's nothing.

Don't join the army. Fuck that. Go find your local militia.

alexthefilmer59 karma

Hi Robert, i'm a freelance journalist/photographer/videographer and I have so many questions. Feel free to answer any that you feel necessary

  1. What is the worst conflict you've been in?
  2. What's the worst (whether it be gruesome or whatnot) thing you've seen?
  3. What advice do you have for other freelancers to get their stuff published, and become involved and report on situations like Syria?
  4. What's it like working with the guys from VICE?
  5. What was the first conflict you covered and how did you get involved with it? (i.e, getting there, getting contacts etc..)
  6. Do you feel like you've made a difference in the world by reporting on all these conflicts?
  7. What is the most rewarding thing you've had or felt from reporting.

Thanks so much for doing an AMA! I've been waiting a long time for you to do one!

Also, if you're ever in Toronto, please let me buy you a beer...or 10.

ImRobertKing109 karma

  1. Each conflict is different and each one has horror. There's not one that is worse or better than another. The most dangerous has probably been Chechnya, but Syria is a close second. Syria is one of the worst.
  2. I can't answer that.
  3. My advice is, before you go to a war, take basic hostile environment training to get your medical down. Believe in yourself even when others discourage you from committing yourself to the story. And it takes a long time and there are a lot of peaks and valleys.
  4. Fucking great.
  5. The first conflict was in '91 the Kurds.
  6. Sometimes.

imtoohighforthisshit57 karma

Not particularly an interesting question, but what is your favourite camera setup? Body and lens wise?

ImRobertKing87 karma

Canon 5D M5 and then I'm currently using the 28 to 70 Canon and the 70/200 mm lens. I'm using a Shinhizer shotgun mic and Sony Lav system.

katnkc48 karma

How has being at the forefront of these conflicts shaped your own moral and political beliefs?

ImRobertKing118 karma

I try to remain apolitical but I guess I'm more libertarian and I have both conservative and liberal tendencies. Morally, I think it makes you stronger because you have the opportunity to hold power accountable.

pickengrin42 karma

This is so tragic. I am very curious to see what is going on behind the blackout and what will be left when the dust clears. Given the current state of unrest; would you rather fight 1 horse sized duck or 100 duck sized horses?

ImRobertKing64 karma

I'd rather do 100 duck sized horses.

HelloFromFL36 karma

How did you like working for Vice? I like almost all of vices stuff.

ImRobertKing50 karma

Loved it. They're great. One of the only publications willing to commit to Syria and willing to insure their journalists who travel into hostile environments.

ImRobertKing52 karma

tragic-waste-of-skin33 karma


ImRobertKing62 karma

The fighters gave it to me.

horse_you_rode_in_on28 karma

It's been reported that in some areas, people are now just as afraid of speaking out against the Free Army as they used to be about speaking out against al-Assad. How much of this is loyalist spin, and how much truth?

ImRobertKing49 karma

It's hard to speak out against anyone holding a weapon. I think that people are speaking out on their concerns of the future once the FSA overthrows Assad.

RaboKarabek28 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA.

How do you keep your photography gear safe? Is it on your body at all times? As well, have you ever felt threatened by either someone who wanted to mug you for your equipment, or someone who was hostile towards you because you were taking pictures in a sensitive and/or emotional environment?

ImRobertKing48 karma

I don't. I've had 8 cameras stolen. I've had them beaten over my head. I try not to use the most expensive equipment on the market because i expect to lose it.

jcx102827 karma

What's Syrian food like?

ImRobertKing46 karma

Great. love it. Chicken! Kibbi fresh vegetables fresh fruits but as of late those foods have been disrupted by the war.

kcsapper27 karma

When I was in Iraq we had an "inbed", who seemed more interested in making us save his ass when he went "looking for THE SHOT". On numerous occasions we put our own lives on the line trying to keep him from catching rounds. Now he was a nice guy and we all liked him, so it made it more frustrating when our little Kodak mascot went running out into a firefight.

I watched your "Witness" documentary on HBO and was interested to know : Is the safety of those you are covering a consideration that dictated the risks you were willing to take to get a photo?

ImRobertKing30 karma

I was never in Witness but you can watch a documentary on me called Shooting Robert King.

As for your Kodak mascot, I'm sure you fed him well and covered his ass and risked your life and your men's lives to keep him alive. Thank you.

TheToiletElvisDiedOn26 karma

First off, stay safe out there.

My question is regarding the use of the Internet and digital media in Syria. Obviously Assad sees the Internet of more of a threat than a tool that he can use. How have dissidents in syria used digital media and Internet communication technology to help in their fight against the government? And what has been the most successful method?

Also, with the Internet being out. What methods are in place so people can have access to the Internet?


ImRobertKing57 karma

Both sides are using the internet as a tool to intimidate and also to inform their supporters and enemies. Just because the current blackout in areas across Syria affects mostly DSL Ethernet lines. does not mean that the internet is completely blocked across the country. Last night I was skyping with Activists in Aleppo and their internet was up and running, and the same with activists in Homs.

speakez26 karma

You have my dream job. Any tips to someone who would like to do what you do?

ImRobertKing74 karma

Set higher goals. It's a hard job and it's not a lucrative job. It's a job that requires years of couchsurfing and living out of a box and in the end, most likely, you just get used and abused. Chewed up and spit out but if you're going to do it, always plan for the future. And squirrel away what you can for the valleys in life.

pigmamicron00525 karma

Hi Robert,

Could you share a bit about how you got into this line of work?

ImRobertKing59 karma

Started at a young age being interested in photography. In high school I ran the newspaper. I taught a photo class to the students and faculty at the high school. Ended up going to art university in Brooklyn. Majored in multimedia and then started covering wars during my time at the school. I went to Sarajevo on a school grant after graduation. Then woke up 21 years later and I'm still doing it.

kidslikeyouandme23 karma

Are there any Syrians with savings or family abroad that haven't fled the violence yet?

Where are they going? Will they have anything to come back to?

ImRobertKing40 karma

Many Syrians are fleeing the violence. The wealthy flee to Europe while many of the villagers and the not so wealthy are relocated inside the country while many more millions flee towards the borders.

naughtyandvice17 karma

Hi Robert! I was wondering what you think about the media coverage of the conflicts you've covered yourself. Who does the best job covering these kinds of things (besides VICE of course)? Do you think the American media covers these kinds of crises in the "right" way? In your opinion, is there a conflict that you think has been underreported or ignored? Thanks for doing this AMA.

ImRobertKing31 karma

Thank you for writing. The Congo is being underreported, Goma is being underreported, Syria is, the Mexican border, conflicts in Eritrea. Throughout history each publication or news outlet has their moments. That has a lot to do with their editorial staff at that time and their ability to work together and find common causes. During Vietnam it was LIFE magazine. During Bosnia it was Newsweek/TIME. You can go back to the fifties and say Jet magazine and the killing of Emmett Till and their coverage. But those days are behind us and today those belweather names are struggling to find their footing.

ImRobertKing22 karma

That's not VICE's problem.

petitepixie16 karma

Thanks for doing this, Robert. I currently work with a Syrian American group in the US working on providing medical relief inside as well as internet security for online activists. We've struggled to broaden awareness about what's going on, especially to children, beyond the Syrian American community. We've tried using disturbing images and we've tried keeping it light and not using upsetting images. I was wondering if you could give some insight on why the average American doesn't seem to be paying attention to Syria. How much do you think the media contributes to this? What do you think a group like mine can do to try to reach a new audience?

One other question: what has been your impression of the motivations of the FSA members you've met? One consistent fear I encounter when talking to US officials and the public in general is radical, ideological groups. However, colleagues who have been in and out of Aleppo tell me that they've passed through Jabat al-Nusra checkpoints and that the fighters there had no conception of the group's ideology. They were simply from that town and al-Nusra gave them guns to protect their homes there. Based on your impressions, how ideologically motivated are the FSA fighters you've met?
Thanks again for all your work!

ImRobertKing29 karma

I think the mainstream media focuses on trending. If Syria is not trending it's not getting covered but I have personally found that the American public does care about Syria and are willing to support independent projects for people such as myself to return to Syria on self-funding sites like Kickstarter.

My impression of the FSA is that they are 100% committed to the cause and are willing to die for a free Syria. I think they're motivated by their desire for freedom and self-rule.

cat_sweaterz14 karma

What was the hardest conflict you covered (both, either/or) emotionally and because of the dangerous situation. What was the first conflict, and did you feel that you may be in over your head, or did it validate your calling?

ImRobertKing29 karma

One of the hardest conflicts has been Syria. Afghanistan was difficult in the early-to-mid 90s. The danger and the terrain was really rough as well as the shifting alliances. My first conflict was Sarajevo. There were some really scary times. You do a lot of foxhole prayers and hope they're answered. And never give up.

_jamil_13 karma

Do you think the situation would be better for the Syrian people if the US military/CIA got involved in the violence?

Do you think that if we did get involved, it would be a long protracted war (ala Afghanistan / Iraq) or that it could somehow be possible to leave quickly (ala Libya / Yugoslavia)?

What do you do to relax at the end of a day when you are in a warzone?

How do you (personally) try to explain the horrors of war to people when they are so disconnected from the reality of it?

ImRobertKing44 karma

I don't think the US military should get involved with boots on the ground. The syrian people have repeatedly stated to me that that's not what they ever asked for or ever wanted. What they would like is a no-fly zone and hardware that allows them to disable Assad's airforce.

I edit video at the end of the day to relax.

I don't explain the horrors of war. I do my job and do my best on informing viewers of what's happening on the ground.

I try not to talk about it.

never_tags_nsfw13 karma

Just how many metric tons of ass did you get while living Russia?

ImRobertKing35 karma

I think I used up all the penicillin.

GoogleBeforeGoogle12 karma

Great respect to you for doing a job I wish I could.

How do you portray an accurate representation of the story? Things are so complicated, is it even possible to give us the full/true story?

After watching War Photographer, I was struck by how hard it must be to tell a truthful story. It's easy for us to say, "Oh well the rebels are good and the government bad"— but is that true? Do you try to portray the story in a certain light, or just take the pictures and let the viewer decide on morality?

ImRobertKing15 karma

It's harder and harder to cover both sides of a conflict. Now you're forced in some cases to almost choose a side to guarantee your physical safety. But with that said, you want to take pictures and even the pictures that people who are protecting you don't want you to take. You still have a job as a journalist.

GoogleBeforeGoogle5 karma

Have you ever chosen to not take a picture?

ImRobertKing20 karma

Sure. When I'm helping them get to the hospital.

mastigia10 karma

How do you insert yourself into something like this. Do you just like get off a plane, walk into a bar and start chatting people up? How does this work? Seems like people in areas like this would be extremely skeptical of outsiders in general, much less some American just rolling in with a bunch of cameras. This has always kind of interested me. Thanks in advance.

ImRobertKing12 karma

Try to stay out of the bars and prepare as much as you can before leaving to go to these countries. And a lot of times, you just have to trust your instincts about the people you meet.

MotorHola9 karma

Thanks Mr. King, as a first-generation Syrian this means a lot.

Is the popular support for the revolution increasing in your experiences or has the movement come to a standstill in support like some journalists say?

ImRobertKing14 karma

The revolution has been going on for two years and the support grows by the day.

datTrooper9 karma

How did you get into conflict photojournalism?

Does on just drive into a country that is in war at the moment and freelancing your photos to buyser or are you on salary at a news magazine and are sent to different countries?

ImRobertKing8 karma

No usually I'm totally freelance. I have an agency, and make money through picture sales.

I usually choose countries in conflicts that are not heavily saturated with journalists.

whalin19 karma

Hey Robert, Im a senior in high school and currently planning on doing journalism as my major and wish to become a journalist when i Graduate. I love vice and have been following your stories in Syria with the most amazing intrigue. I envy your courage and ability to make a difference in this world by doing the most important thing a journalist can do, expose the lies and record the truth. 1.I just want to ask you how you were able to finance your trips over to the countries you go to? 2. How do you get connections in these foreign places? 3. How do you get connections or even get in with the major media outlets to get them to run your stories?

ImRobertKing17 karma

The trips are financed through picture sales and commissioned work. You have to be boots on the ground to get the connections and make contacts. People are not going to contact me if I don't leave my house and interact.

BustyMilfsX9 karma

Do you honestly believe that Syria will gain stability if Assad is ousted from power? Al Qaida is just one of the extremist Islamic military groups that supports the FSA and fights with them. I've seen numerous videos and read numerous reports of the FSA and the rebels doing things like executing state news reporters and prisoners of war. Shooting them like dogs. There are also numerous suicide bombings on government buildings resulting in the loss of civilian life. What is to say that Al Qaida does not grow its role in this conflict?



ImRobertKing14 karma

Al Qaida was already there before the conflict began. They were using Syria as a staging ground during America's invasion of Iraq. So one could say that Assad gave them the safe haven and they merely switched alliances. But if the West continues to refuse to intervene in some way, then of course Al Qaida's strength and numbers will grow.

Marylandman1018 karma

how do you get the job you have?

ImRobertKing39 karma

made a press pass. Got drunk at a bar with a VICE editor.

backseatfreestyle8 karma

Is it odd to go hunting with your son after you've spent time in warzones?

ImRobertKing29 karma

No. Some of my favorite downtime that I get to spend with my family. The hunting allows us to spend time outdoors. I have yet to shoot an animal with my son. And my son is yet to shoot an animal with me. But each time we're out in the woods we have a good time, and our relationship becomes stronger.

matthias008 karma

Hi, first I'd like to thank you for putting your life on the line every day so that people like me can sit at their computer and get glimpses of the horror going on over there.

I was just wondering if, given what you've seen over there and other places, you believe foreign military intervention would help to stabilize the region quicker or not. Thanks!

ImRobertKing19 karma

Thank you. I think the military foreign intervention would help contain the conflict and stabilize the region. With that being said, I'm not promoting actual boots on the ground. A no-fly zone that protects a humanitarian corridor is what I have in mind.

Fandorin8 karma

Why should the world care? It's intuitive to most people here, but I think there are a lot of people that have trouble seeing the world past the tip of their own nose. So, how do you convince someone like that to care about Syria, Yemen, Congo, etc?

ImRobertKing36 karma

The world should care because they've been informed of the slaughter and the crimes against humanity. Because they've been informed, history will hold them accountable.

adp21248 karma

Hi Robert,

First of all, just want to thank you for putting your life at risk to get the amazing footage and images you've brought to us. It's so important for the western world to see this and thank you for your service.

Syria is obviously linked politically and otherwise to other players in the region i.e. Lebanon. How do you see this conflict affecting other countries in the region namely Iran?

ImRobertKing9 karma

I think it first affects the countries that touch Syria. The country that doesn't touch Syria that will be affected directly is Russia.

I think Iran will send some fighters there and sell some weapons but Syria's largest weapon supplier is Russia. With Iraq being dominated by a Shia government Iran still has a buffer zone if Syria is ruled by the Sunni majority.

Raidersfan6668 karma

Here's a question, Why is European Fanta so damn delicious?

ImRobertKing40 karma

because they use cane sugar.

thisisfin8 karma


ImRobertKing17 karma

You're better off going to multimedia art school so you can adapt to the industry when it changes.

Or jump right in.

PowerCrumpet7 karma

Hi Robert - Just a quick one!

You've been in Syria for some time now - what is it about the conflict there that has lead to you staying for so long? How is it different? Rather than photographing an overview of the conflict, you've focussed on smaller narratives, namely children affected by the conflict - do you think this will have a bigger effect on western audiences than a more typical approach?

Thanks for your time!

ImRobertKing23 karma

I want to document the conflict because there was so little coverage coming out of the area. Russia's presence there makes Syria an important location geopolitically.

I didn't focus on the children. You see a lot of innocent civilians who are being slaughtered and a lot of those people happen to be children. I didn't pass up a wounded person because I was only focusing on children. Thank you for writing.

thanatosbreath7 karma

Any thoughts on Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, etc.?

ImRobertKing11 karma

Jabhat al-Nusra...it's said they're better armed than the more moderate fighters. But the majority of them, regardless of their names, are from Syria.

m1a1tanksauce6 karma


ImRobertKing16 karma

I didn't encounter many Salafists. Most of the fighters I encountered were from Syria. I don't think the conflict can end without some type of outside help and support.

adelesmth6 karma

Hey Robert, do you see things accelerating faster with the last deelopmentin Damas or thesame slow progress observed in the last few months? Where are you now?

ImRobertKing14 karma

Possibly. Things could accelerate very fast now, especially with NATO and Turkey working on an agreement on how to contain the conflict.

itsMalarky6 karma

I love the work vice is doing.

The syrian's seem to be in a very unique position, especially considering the fact that it almost seems like (for the most part) they have the support of the West while they also receive support from what we might normally call "Extremist" groups.

Is this the case or is my perception of the situation totally off?

ImRobertKing12 karma

They've had some words from the West but no real military hardware support or advisor help that I've seen.

No_Easy_Buckets6 karma

How significant is it that big rebel factions like Jabhat al-Nusra and others rejected the new coalition earlier this month? What consequences will this have on post Assad state building?

Did you see those kinds of extreme Islamists? Or we're you with a more secular group? Sorry I haven't read your stories.

ImRobertKing7 karma

I think the largest opposition group in Aleppo supports the coalition. al-Nusra spoke out of turn and that video has been condemned by the majority of the Syrian people in rebel held areas. Most Syrians don't want Sharia law. They want a democracy. They want to elect their leaders. And have a beer or two.

Didn't see the extremists often. Check out VICE's Syria issue to see my photographs.: http://www.vice.com/magazine/19/11

bam4316 karma

Firstly, thank you for doing what you do, I think it's important to see what's really going on in the world and I really respect you and what you do.

I heard a Reuters reporter speak about her time in Syria a few months back and she mentioned that they sent her in with body armour. As a freelancer do you bother with body armour in Syria?

In the same train of thought what's the most important thing you bring into a conflict zone aside from the obvious gear.

ImRobertKing11 karma

Your medical kit is the most important thing to bring. I bring body armor.

billdietrich15 karma

You say Syria is not a civil war. What is it ?

ImRobertKing12 karma

I think it's a slaughter bordering on ethnic cleansing.

billdietrich15 karma

Syria seems like an excellent example of a conflict the USA should stay the hell out of. Messy civil war, a zillion militias and factions involved, animosities stretching back decades at least. Our record of trying to "fix" countries by force is abysmal. Do you agree ?

ImRobertKing25 karma

I don't agree that Syria is a civil war. I don't think that America has fucked up every country it tries to help. Countries with wealth have a moral responsibility to help ease the pain and suffering of others and Syria should not be exempt from this moral responsibility.

claroclaro5 karma

Dear Robert, what do you think of the role of the Emir of Qatar in this tragedy? It is hard for an outsider to understand the wars in countries like Syria etc.. Im torn between the stories the media tells and the ones I hear directly from proAssad Syrian friends. How do you think is the best way to get accountable information. Thanks

ImRobertKing6 karma

I think the media is doing the best that they can do to report this story and I would say it's the Syrian media that's putting out misinformation than say the global media. The state media is in direct battle with the FSA activists and they're trying to outdo each other. The international media is pretty objective.

homebrewtj5 karma

Have you ever had friends or family that wanted to come along? If so, what's your response?

ImRobertKing18 karma


jonnysunshine4 karma

Hi Robert,

What are thoughts on transparency in government and forcing the hand of leaders who abuse their people through power?

By that I mean, do you believe that social media websites like Twitter and Facebook, the work of journalists like yourself and the work of NGO's in highlighting the atrocities of leaders like Assad might have an impact on a country like Syria where the grip of government is so tight that they can commit atrocities with the implicit support by governments such as Russia and China who sit as permanent members of the UN Security Council?

Thanks for the AMA!

ImRobertKing11 karma

I think the work of journalists is having an impact. And that's the reason journalists are targeted so much today.

I think transparency is important in government but governments are afraid of transparency because they will lose their grip on power if their citizens really know how their governments truly operate.

skeng_scruff3 karma

How difficult is it to maintain neutrality when reporting, particularly when one side clearly has the military edge and doesn't really want to talk to you (I'm assuming this from what I hear/read in the media)?

ImRobertKing13 karma

You find a balance. You don't become an activist. You're a journalist, an observer, there to document war crimes. Just because your'e there to document war crimes doesn't mean you're pro this or pro that. You're anti-war anyway, and that's the reason you're going. But you have a moral responsibility with a camera in a warzone to record crimes against humanity.

nattynie3 karma


ImRobertKing7 karma

I became a photojournalist after spending time with a LIFE magazine in Natchez, Mississippi. The images were the year-end collection in 1990, and those images inspired me and influenced my direction in photographer.

CitizenSnips53 karma

Hi Robert! First of all, thank you so much for doing this. I'm going to go ahead and ask what probably all the aspiring photojournalists in here are wanting to know, and that is how did you end up exactly where you are today?

Do you believe a degree in journalism is necessary and/or needed anymore? I know there is no cookie-cutter method to being a great photojournalist as yourself, but it's always interesting to hear how the sucessful ones got there personally! I'm a college film student with aspirations of shooting for a great news publication some day, and stories from the people who are already there are always an inspiration to me.

Also any thoughts on the HBO series "Witness" that follows war photographers like yourself?

Again, thank you for letting us speak with you!

ImRobertKing12 karma

I wasn't able to see the Witness series. I was too busy being a witness myself.

I would suggest that you try something more creative than a journalism degree, somewhere to teach you to think out of the box. Why do you want a degree from an industry that can't figure out where it's future lies?

Kangar0oster3 karma


ImRobertKing3 karma

It took a while. a few years. two years to start getting published and after the first two years, I was able to be trusted by such organizations as AP and that's how it started.

I try not to think about being afraid and try to reduce my risks while I'm in hostile environments so I do not have to be afraid and can be confident that I have made the right choices and decisions.

furinkasan3 karma

Knowing that being there is already dangerous, do you take even more risks in order to get your story? and how do you perceive that a situation is dangerous enough. There is this common perception that war photographers can be willingly reckless in the line of duty.

ImRobertKing11 karma

It's more about risk reduction than taking risks. You have to play it safe and in dangerous areas find safe spaces to work in.

Jazzblaster3 karma

Do you feel that with the formation of the Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces the opposition will finally start working together? Or will the leaders of the CORF have as little real authority as the SNC had before them?

ImRobertKing4 karma

I hope that everyone will join forces and support whatever group is formed if that group will guarantee weapons and financial support.