Since the US invasion of Iraq eight years ago, I’ve been to Baghdad eight times. I first arrived in the city as a US Marine in April 2003 with the invading forces. I’ve returned as a journalist on seven more occasions. I’ve witnessed Baghdad morph and contort like no other city: from the open, uncertain, early days of the occupation to ground zero of a bloody civil war to a labyrinth of cement T-walls that give inhabitants the feeling of rats in a maze never finding the cheese.
This series of aerial, tilt-shift photos offers a glimpse of Baghdad’s unbounded future—a hope for a new Baghdad: a model city known for its own treasures instead of the violence unleashed by the course of recent history. As the US military withdraws, this scarred city is tentatively blossoming anew. Tourist attractions like the 180-foot-high ferris wheel ask visitors to see Baghdad as something other than a battleground and recognize that the last eight years are but a single grain joining three thousand years of sand in the base of Baghdad’s ancient hourglass.