Meet Ahmed


Again, I’m going to try something a little different. I’m going to tell you a little about my text, talk about it’s connotations and denotations and then would you scroll down and have a look at this picture? I sure would appreciate it.

First off, the picture is a portrait, of sorts,  displaying a support soldier in the Free Syrian Army. It was taken this time last year by photojournalist Sebastiano Tomada Piccolomini in the contested Syrian city of Aleppo. Yeah, it’s going to be grim.

First the denotations. The soldier has his rifle slung over his shoulder and is holding its’ butt at his side while casually taking a drag of his cigarette. He’s staring down the camera with a blank and slightly hostile stare. Framing his form is rubbish, rubble and the support structure of a bombed-out concrete building.

Please scroll down now.











Syria: On the Frontline in Aleppo

What you were expecting?

 Connotations. There’s lots of them. Personally, I know how I felt the first time I saw this picture.

The existence of child soldiers is something that I assume we’ve all seen in pictures or read about in articles before, but I found this photo particularly shocking the first time I saw it. Everything is captured perfectly to create the greatest impact. The baby face of the boy and his childish hands perfectly juxtapose the cigarette for maximum effect. The clothes he wears, almost reminiscent of the hand-me-down primary school uniforms we all wore, could not seem more foreign in comparison to the AK-47 the boy so casually brandishes. I felt shocked, sympathetic, and a thousand other negative things. In regard to it’s connotation, the text comes to represent the human tragedy of the Syrian war. 

For us. Someone else, someone who maybe originally gave this boy a rifle, perhaps feels differently. In the story of how the photograph came to be taken, the rebels the boy supplies appear proud of him. They pose with him during interviews, encouraging him and let him through grenades for the camera. How would they feel about this photo? What are the connotations of this image from their perspective?

His name is Ahmed, he is 7 years old and you can read more about him here. It’s a year old but sadly his story isn’t that outdated. There is also an excellent video in the story that is worth the watch.

My question earlier in this post wasn’t rhetorical, by the way. I’m asking you. Yes you, with the computer. Do leave a comment and let me know what you think, how you feel and which words were misspelt/sentences were convoluted.


  • Sherlock, R, “The 8 year old boy on Syrias Front Lines”, The Telegraph, Published 29/3/13, accessed 24/3/14
  • Williams, D, “Syrian Boy Soldier with A 1000 Yard Stare,  The Daily Mail, Published 28/3/13, Accessed 24/3/14

4 thoughts on “Meet Ahmed

  1. Cheers, bud. I was hoping it’d pay off, I was a little nervous.
    You have quite the blog yourself. “It’s good to feel scared, shocked, and appalled…”, definately a highlight for me. Smiley face.

  2. Pingback: Reflecting. Reflection… Reflektor. | (hardly) Working Title

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