Claire Thomas is a freelance photojournalist and photographer from Wales, UK, whose work focuses on conflict, humanitarian and social issues.
Between 2016 and June 2019 Claire was based in northern Iraq covering the country’s efforts to defeat ISIS and recover from decades of conflict. During the final liberation of the city of Mosul she worked on the frontlines photographing the work of volunteer medical professionals as they provided emergency pre-hospital treatment to civilians and military personnel injured in the fighting. Prior to this she spent time on the island of Lesvos in Greece, and the “jungle” in Calais, France, chronicling the plight of refugees escaping conflict and persecution seeking to establish a new life in Europe. She is currently based in the UK and travels frequently to the Middle East.
A child receives emergency treatment for head trauma and other injuries at a makeshift field clinic set up inside an abandoned store on the edge of Mosul's Old City, Iraq, on July 2, 2017.
Her work appears in leading newspapers and magazines including The Sunday Times, Geographical Magazine, The Guardian, and Al Jazeera. She also works regularly with UN agencies worldwide including UNDP and UNHCR, as well as international non-governmental organisations.
In addition to the refugee crisis in Europe and the war against ISIS in Iraq, Claire has, in recent years, photographed a range of humanitarian stories. She spent time in Palestine focusing on the non-violent resistance against the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank. In 2012 she created a photo series documenting the lives of women in Ghana living with HIV/AIDS. Working in collaboration with the community-based organisation that supports the women, Claire’s photos were used as part of a campaign to raise money to buy beds for the women.
A keen horse rider, adventurer and nature enthusiast, Claire has also undertaken several independent projects in diverse and remote corners of the world, including Alaska, Wyoming, Lesotho, Mozambique and more recently Mongolia where she photographed the iconic Kazakh eagle hunters of the Altai mountains.
Claire has been shortlisted for a number of awards for her coverage of the Mosul offensive, including Photojournalist of the Year at the British Journalism Awards in 2017, the Amnesty International UK Media Awards Photojournalism category in 2018, and Photo Essay of the Year in the UK Picture Editors’ Guild Awards in 2018. In 2019 she was a member of the judging panel for the Amnesty International UK Media Awards Photojournalism category.
Iraqi soldiers search for remaining ISIS fighters during the battle to liberate the remaining pocket of ISIS-held territory in the Old City of Mosul on July 11, 2017.
Claire’s work has been exhibited in a number of countries including Belgium, France and Iraq. In September 2018 Claire’s work was part of a Handicap International campaign to raise awareness of the impact of explosive weapons on civilians. During the Pyramid of Shoes event in September 2018, 90 portraits of survivors of explosive weapons, 30 of which were taken by Claire in Iraq, were exhibited in 15 cities across France including Paris and Lyon.