National Geographic Photographer Jodi Cobb lectured Feb. 27 on the “Documentation of the Human Slave Trade” for the department of Communication and Theater. Room 302 of Annenberg Hall was full at 10:45 a.m., leaving latecomers with seats on the floor.
Cobb’s lecture started with a slide show of photographs showing the trafficking of humans, mostly women and children, around the world. While relating the story behind each photograph, Cobb traveled from the glass factories and the red-light areas of India to the streets of Florida. She also spoke of slave trades in Bosnia, Thailand, Israel, Italy and Africa.
The majority of her photographs marked the trafficking of humans in Mumbai, India. The photos displayed young African and Indian children working day and night over furnaces making glass or doing other manual labor that resulted in injury or fatal diseases.
“I was terrified and scared,” Cobb said of her travels. “Most photographers who’d gone to photograph these traffickers had either been killed or injured, and my car was followed around as well. It is quite a traumatic experience.”
She added that the excitement of exploring these stories is so great that concern for her safety seemed secondary.
“One gets so much adrenaline that self is like the last thing on the mind,” she said.
Cobb holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and a master’s degree in photography from the University of Missouri. She has worked in more than 50 countries exploring stories like slavery and human trafficking.
Cobb was the first photographer to be granted admission into the palaces and hidden lives of the princesses of Saudi Arabia. She has produced a number of articles for the National Geographic; her article on human trafficking brought the most public response in the history of the magazine.
Her book “Geisha: The Life, The Voices, The Art,” underlines the hidden geisha of Japan. Cobb’s photographs have been exhibited in various institutes including the International Center of Photography in New York and institutes in France and Jordan. She has won numerous accolades recognizing her work in the field of photography.
Amna Rizvi can be reached at email@example.com.