During the course of a photojournalism assignment or project, often in tense and hostile situations, I sometimes capture images that reflect the essence of a conflict or crisis while at the same time being artistically captivating. These images are usually a somewhat more subtle representation of scenes that are ancillary to the actual conflict and subsequent suffering without presenting the more graphic images most often associated with war and other humanitarian situations. Below is a selection of images that exemplify this, providing a reflection of the artistic expression that can sometimes be found even in the midst of crises and conflicts involving human tragedy.

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Fighter

An Iraqi soldier is pictured in the town of Qayyarah, south of Mosul, Iraq, in December 2016. Before the town was liberated by Iraqi forces in August 2016, ISIS militants set fire to several of the town’s oil wells. Thick, toxic smoke continued to shroud the city and surrounding areas for several months, leaving behind a legacy of prolonged health problems and environmental crises.

The Fire’s Edge

Firefighters stand on the edge of a flaming oil well, set ablaze by retreating ISIS militants in the town of Qayyarah, south of Mosul, Iraq. Due to the almost unstoppable fuel supply feeding the flames, oil well fires present a much greater challenge to firefighters than regular fires. After the fires are put out the wells must be capped immediately in order to stem the flow of oil and to prevent poisonous and highly flammable gases being released into the atmosphere. December 12, 2016.

Iraqi Outpost

Iraqi soldiers stand guard at a military outpost in the village of Haj Ali, south of Mosul, Iraq, on December 7, 2016. As the battle to recapture the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul progressed, Iraqi forces and paramilitary militias consolidated their gains and prepared for further advances towards the city. Toxic black smoke from the burning oil wells in the nearby town of Qayyarah, set ablaze by retreating ISIS militants, filled the sky, leaving behind a legacy of prolonged health issues and environmental crises.

Mosul Mosque Sunset

The glow of the setting sun is seen from inside a minaret dotted with bullet holes located in a West Mosul neighbourhood recently liberated from ISIS control by Iraqi forces backed by US-led coalition forces. Smoke billows in the background as a group of ISIS fighters disguised as members of the Popular Mobilization Forces launched a counter attack in a nearby neighbourhood, setting fire to houses and causing thousands of civilians to flee in fear of a resurgence of the terror group, June 25, 2017.

Outpost

Iraqi soldiers stand guard at a military outpost in the village of Haj Ali, south of Mosul, Iraq, on December 7, 2016. Toxic black smoke from the burning oil wells in the nearby town of Qayyarah fills the sky.

Still Smiling

Children gather to greet a group of clowns visiting a camp for internally displaced people in northern Iraq. The entertainers are Danish and Swedish and form a humanitarian collective called Clowns 4 Care, which travels to crisis areas around the world with the goal of creating positive experiences and happy memories for children.

Mosul Tank

Under a blanket of black smoke from the nearby flaming oil wells, an Iraqi Army tank and a US-led coalition helicopter are pictured on the outskirts of Qayyarah, south of Mosul, on December 7, 2016.

Female Fighter

Nineteen-year-old Joanna is a member of the armed Peshmerga unit of the Kurdistan Freedom Party, known as the PAK, pictured at a base in northern Iraq near the town of Kirkuk. She is one of around 200 Iranian-Kurdish women who left Iran to join the peshmerga in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq.