Photo by Scott McIntyre (8)
Volunteers make the final count of caskets carrying remains of 775 Bosnian women and men in an old warehouse building near the former United Nations building in Potocari. The United Nations building was led by a Dutch battalion who were responsible for the safety of the people of Srebrenica but could not fight the VRS soldiers who were killing off the Bosnian Muslim men of Srebrenica. Despite their role as peace keepers, United Nations declined to send reinforcements to help combat the Bosnian-Serb army.
© Scott McIntyre

Text and photographs by Scott McIntyre.


Being born in America, the extent of my travels was fairly limited. Growing up, my family would go to Florida on vacation and occasionally other states where the distance was not too far. When I was in college I picked up a camera and studied photojournalism. My passions grew but my curiosities seemed rather simple when it came to exploring with my camera. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago where my interest to travel the world to work started to grow. The more international photographer’s work I would study the more my curiosity and angst to travel would grow. My first opportunity came in one of my journalism classes when I was approached along with a couple of classmates to apply for a travel grant to cover an even that was discussed in class. This grant would take us to East Bosnia and Herzegovina to photograph the 15th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.

Photo by Scott McIntyre (13)
A Bosnian teen makes his way down a hill near the town of Caparde in Eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina during a trek called the March of Peace. The march commemorates those who had fled genocide of thousands of Bosnian Muslim men in the small town of Srebrenica in July of 1995. This year over 1,000 people participated in the 110 km march of East Bosnia. Since the Bosnian war ended, the country is still in transition and the search continues for loved ones who have not been found since their disappearance during the genocide.
© Scott McIntyre
Photo by Scott McIntyre (12)
A Bosnian Muslim man makes his way past the 775 caskets of Bosnian men and women who were killed during the Srebrenica genocide in July of 1995. Every year since the genocide, a memorial service has been held in the town adjacent to Srebrenica called Potocari. Each year, the service brings together the families of those whose remains have been identified and buries them in a mass grave site.
© Scott McIntyre

Fast forward six months. I research the area and speak with friends about the country. Even though I have a good idea about what to expect when I arrive in Bosnia, I still feel very unprepared. I don’t know the language, I don’t know where anything is, I don’t really even know where we are headed when we get there. All I know is our journey begins two days after we arrive in the small village of Nezuk.

Photo by Scott McIntyre (11)
Women weep together after watching their loved ones being buried in the grave site in Potocari. In 2010, 775 people were buried in the ceremony.
© Scott McIntyre
Photo by Scott McIntyre (10)
A woman weeps for her family members that are being buried at the memorial. This year, over 50,000 people came to the ceremony to pay their respects and bury their loved ones. When women were separated from their husbands, fathers, and sons during the war in 1995, they were told they would be prisoners of war but were taken to neighboring towns and murdered.
© Scott McIntyre

A little background on the project. In July of 1995, an army of Serb-VRS soldiers, led by General Ratko Mladić, entered a United Nations sanctioned safe zone in the town of Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The army separated the Bosnian-Muslim men and boys from their families. The soldiers told the families that the men would be considered prisoners of war but were then taken to towns throughout the area and murdered. The Serb-VRS force killed over 8,000 Bosniaks in what was considered the largest massacre on European soil since World War II. Every year since the genocide, thousands of people converge on the small town of Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina to bury the remains of people who have been found in the various mass graves where the murdered were buried throughout the hills of Bosnia.

Photo by Scott McIntyre (9)
Bosnian women seek refuge under the shade of a tree in the town of Potocari at the end of a ceremony remembering the 15th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. In July of 1995, women from Srebrenica saw as their sons, fathers, husbands, brothers, and other men in their lives were taken from them to where they were thought were going to be prisoners of the Bosnian war but were taken to outside providences and murdered by Bosnian-Serb forces. Every year since 1995, a ceremony has been held in Potocari that remembers the massacre and buries those who have been found throughout the year. In 2010, 775 people had been found in areas throughout the country, especially in mass graves that had been found by the International Center for Missing Persons.
© Scott McIntyre
Photo by Scott McIntyre (7)
Surrounded by nearly 50,000 people, families shoveled dirt on top of their family member's caskets. 15 years after the war in Bosnia has ended, the country is still rebuilding not only buildings and towns, they are rebuilding families.
© Scott McIntyre

We started on July 8th in the small village of Nezuk in an annual 110 km march to the ceremony site of Potocari. Over 1,000 people and I walked through towns, hills, roadways, and forests to reach our destination. I was not used to any of this. When I am making photographs I like to stay and linger in a situation until I am happy with a photo. This was not the case. I had to adjust to making photos while trying to keep up with over 1,000 people who I couldn’t understand. Even though I couldn’t speak the language people started to understand why we were there. After a day or so, our fellow marchers welcomed us. At some points there would be breaks where someone would read historical information about the spot we were on. Some of our breaks included spots where the Serb-VRS army would shell towards people fleeing through the same hills where we were resting. At some points when I was exhausted from hiking I had to snap myself back to what was important. “What do I have to complain about? People were escaping death on these hills. People lost their families in these hills.” I was becoming selfish and tired.

Photo by Scott McIntyre (6)
A man makes his way down a hill to a group of men talking towards the end of the second day of marching the Bosnian countryside toward the Srebrenica memorial site in Potocari. 15 years after the war in Bosnia has ended, the country is still rebuilding not only buildings and towns, they are rebuilding families.
© Scott McIntyre
Photo by Scott McIntyre (5)
Spiritual leaders make their way through the large crowd to offer prayers for families who are burying their loved ones in the ceremonial burial site.
© Scott McIntyre

My exhaustion subsided when we arrived to Potocari. I could see the graves in the distance. It still felt like I was in another world. Three weeks prior to this trip I was in the comfort zone of my life in America. I knew exactly where I was and what I was doing. That feeling was never with me when I was in Bosnia. My thought process was changing. How I approached situations became clearer when I couldn’t communicate with whom I was documenting. It is difficult to explain but somehow things felt like they were falling into place visually. My nerves seem to have subsided or just became numb. I knew that I was getting more comfortable with these situations when I walked into the warehouse where the 775 caskets carrying the remains that were to be buried were being held. I didn’t freeze up. I walked in and composed the situation the way it felt to me. I believe that is how I achieved some of the photographs from the following day at the ceremony. Over 50,000 people attended to watch and bury their loved ones. It was the most powerful scene to be a part of. Was I doing the best I could? I think so. I knew I was doing well because I was not being disruptive. I believe that is one of the worst things a photographer can do. It angers me when photographers push and shove to get the shot. There is no art to that, nor beauty.

Photo by Scott McIntyre (4)
Bosnian-Muslim women pray over the casket of a family member the day before the ceremony in Potocari.
© Scott McIntyre
Photo by Scott McIntyre (3)
After ceremony services concluded, the 775 caskets carrying the remains of Bosniaks were carried to their respective burial sites and placed in the ground.
© Scott McIntyre

Ten hours later people started to leave and we started to collect our thoughts about what just took place. I had never experienced anything that powerful ever before. The following days when I was traveling back to America I kept replaying this journey in my head. What I had just been through was unlike any other project I had ever pursued and I liked that fact about it. I approached every situation with a fresh eye and curiosity. I was going through my photos and noticing different ways of seeing. What was I thinking? It seems to me that my experience in Bosnia matured my vision to what it is today. Sure, I don’t see like this everyday but when I do, I look at situations more symbolically than literal. To some viewers, it may not work, but to me it is what the photo represents rather than what it is of. I am still astounded at how I came away with a body of work in which I am proud of. I was quite unprepared going into these situations, but the more I think about it, I work better that way. I’ve read about other photographers who take months planning where and what they will shoot but that’s never helped me. There’s only so much you can plan ahead for and in my life the times that are not planned are what make life so surreal.

Photo by Scott McIntyre (2)
A group of Bosnian teens rest during a short break before taking on the third day of marching the 110 kilometer trail from the small village of Nezuk to the Srebrenica ceremony site.
© Scott McIntyre
Photo by Scott McIntyre (1)
Thousands of people make the trek to the Srebrenica memorial every July 11 to remember their fallen brothers, sons, and fathers that were killed in the genocide by Serbian forces in July of 1995. This year 775 people were buried and over 50,000 people came to honor them.
© Scott McIntyre