Passport: Nick Danziger - `My inspiration was Tintin. He was my hero'

STRICTLY speaking, Nick Danziger is an artist, a writer, a photographer and a filmmaker, but he is just as happy being called a photo-journalist. He was born in London and brought up in Europe, but he holds a US passport.

"I take about 100,000 photographs a year, freelancing on different assignments. Most of my work is based on people living in difficult or unfortunate circumstances, particularly young people. Given the right environment and circumstances, all children have potential. I think that is very important."

On leaving Chelsea College of Art in 1984, he travelled to China on a Winston Churchill Memorial Travelling Fellowship. "I went away for 18 months, travelling overland on foot, camel, horse and donkey through Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan and Afghanistan. I was the first foreigner to cross over the Karakoram mountains into China since 1949. I wanted to follow trade routes to China in the way that they would have been followed centuries ago. I took photos and sketched along the way."

Nick lost all his belongings in an ambush on the Afghan border. "I was upset about losing my diary and my camera, but fortunately, someone saved them and I got everything back six weeks later when they finally tracked me down." Very fortunately for him, as this was the base material for the book he went on to write, the best-selling Danziger's Travels.

"I was living in the States when the book came out and various magazines started offering me photographic assignments." He decided to put down his palette and pursue a journalistic career. "I wanted to go back to painting but photo-journalism allowed me to go to all the places that I had dreamt of travelling to when I was a child."

Nick left home for the first time at 13, when he travelled on his own from the family home in Switzerland to Paris. This was the first of many solo teenage sojourns around the world.

"My inspiration was Tintin, the Belgian comic-strip character. He was my hero. My parents tried to stop me travelling by reducing my pocket- money, but that didn't prevent me. A lot of the time I was petrified, especially as I had to sleep in parks. It was illegal, so I would have to hide. I was always really panicked about that, so I never got a good night's sleep."

He survived on the money he earned selling sketches of tourist sites he visited along the way. "People took pity on me and, although the sketches were probably pretty poor, they bought them anyway."

Ten years ago, he set up an orphanage for abandoned and orphaned children in Kabul. "They were living in a mental asylum and, for eight years, I felt responsible for those children and took them on excursions or holidays when- ever I could."

Nick visited many times until, eventually, all the children were found foster homes, or turned 16 and were able to leave. Two years ago, he adopted the last three orphans, two girls and a boy. They now live with him in Monaco.

"For the last eight years, virtually all of my holiday time has been spent in Afghanistan with the children. I am determined that we spend all of our holidays together. I haven't taken the children back to Kabul, but as we had all built close ties there - with three women in particular, whom we regard as part of our family - I have been back. Now, I want to see what we, as a family, can do to help them."

"A Tale of Three Cities - Glasgow, Tijuana and Kabul", an exhibition of Nick Danziger's photographs, is showing at the Midlands Art Centre, Birmingham (tel: 0121-440 4221) until 20 September.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Automotive Service Advisor - Franchised Main Dealer

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, family owned m...

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable