This Will Forever Change How You See Refugees

Photo: Courtesy of Milan Radisics.
Hungary has made headlines for taking harsh measures against refugees and migrants fleeing violence and poverty in the Middle East and North Africa. The world is currently experiencing the worst refugee crisis since World War II, according to the European Commission, and Hungary has been a major entry point for people hoping to resettle across Europe.

In response, Hungary has revised its refugee laws to allow the Hungarian army to use "rubber bullets, teargas, and net guns" on immigrants crossing its borders, according to the BBC. It's the latest measure in the country's harsh stance toward refugees and migrants, which has been criticized by human rights groups.

"They are over-running us," Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. "They're not just banging on the door, they're breaking the doors down on top of us. Our borders are under threat. Hungary is under threat and so is the whole of Europe."

But many citizens in Hungary have struggled with the juxtaposition of the often-dehumanizing language their government uses and the people they meet on these desperate journeys. Understanding and sharing the faces of the refugee crisis was one of the reasons Milan Radisics picked up his camera.

Radisics is a graphic designer, editor, and freelance photographer based in Hungary. His work has previously been published in the Hungarian, Serbian, and Russian editions of National Geographic.

"I am storyteller with my camera, and I learned to show topics from different aspects and different points of view," Radisics told Refinery29 in an email.

"The topic of refugees is a hot issue right now and attracts many photographers. Many of them captured great scenes and unrepeatable moments. But [with my work], I wanted to show emotions without any surroundings that might color the image. I wanted to show the story in unusual way, through only one means: people's faces, and, more precisely, through their eyes, which are like the windows of our soul," he said.

To produce these striking portraits, Radisics said he used a special type of lens and a shallow depth of field to blur the background and focus in on individual faces. Rarely does he ever learn their names or their stories; many do not feel comfortable sharing those details as they flee, although Radisics said he always asks permission before he photographs anyone.

"I wanted to focus attention to their personalities, to allow their faces to talk for themselves. I wanted to tell stories without words, without colors, without any surrounding signs. Just from the soul," Radisics said.

Radisics shares his perspective and his photographs with Refinery29 from his home in Budapest.

Photo caption: An anonymous refugee child holds his toys while waiting at a Hungarian train station on September 6. For information on how you can help refugees, read more here.

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