Being a photojournalist in a war zone is a dangerous job. In addition to the physical hazards of combat photography, there’s always the possibility that you will be kidnapped and taken hostage by insurgents.
Update: Jansen has requested that his photos be removed, as they are currently “being investigated for possible violations of sensitive information.”
US Army lieutenant Alexander Jansen has spent the past year serving in Afghanistan as a liaison officer, training the members of the Afghan National Army. During this time, he has been very involved in photography, using his DSLRs to capture what deployment is like through a soldier’s eyes. Read more…
We’ve shared some pretty intense footage captured using helmet-mounted cameras in the past, but perhaps none as crazy as the video above. Shot by a US soldier in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, the video offers a point-of-view look at what it’s like to face machine gun fire from the Taliban. [Editor's note: Be warned -- there's a bit of mature language.] Read more…
Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque recently got a call that summoned him for a top secret assignment: travel on an unannounced trip to Afghanistan with President Obama. After getting back, Lamarque wrote up an interesting behind-the-scenes blog post documenting his experience:
We are driven to the remote hangar where Air Force One sits out front, completely blacked out. We board the plane in darkness and inside the cabin, the shades are all down. We will not do the customary photo of Obama boarding the plane as we do on every other scheduled departure. Instead, at some point, we feel the plane begin to move and we know President Obama is on board and we are headed to Afghanistan.
[...] Communication, a photographers primary concern after making pictures, is patchy at Karzai’s presidential palace, our first stop. The ability to get pictures out to our clients quickly can produce stress in places such as Kabul. Though all four photographers on this trip (Reuters, AP, AFP, New York Times) carry various data card devices, we know they may prove useless. We also carry satellite phones, but we all know that there will never actually be time to set them up and use them. At the palace, we do get a faint and slow cellular data signal, and after checking that the embargo on Obama’s arrival has been lifted, we are all able to transmit the first pictures of Obama arriving in Afghanistan. The veil of secrecy is gone.
The Afghan box camera, or kamra-e-faoree as it’s called in Afghanistan, is a humble creation that has served its purpose well for many years. We say humble because the “camera body” consists of a wooden box, the “focusing apparatus” is a metal shaft attached to a piece of wood, and the “shutter” is controlled by removing and reinserting the “lens cap” manually. Read more…
After reading about the Wakhan Corridor in the New York Times, French photographers Fabrice Nadjari and Cedric Houin decided to visit the remote region in Afghanistan in the summer of 2011, walking for 24 days through a 140 mile stretch. Their project, titled “Traces of Time”, involved capturing instant photos of the villagers they met:
When [Nadjari and Houin] arrived in the first village, they found that even photographs, which freeze time, worked differently. The portraits they took with Polaroid cameras developed oddly, and degraded rapidly, because of the high altitude and harsh conditions. But this made them no less valuable to their subjects, many of whom had never seen a photograph. Some had never seen an outsider.
The local Afghans marveled at the fragile images and lined up to have their photos taken.
“There was something extremely precious in the way they were holding the image, in the way they wanted to get it as soon as it got out of the camera,” Mr. Nadjari said. “It was both the gift and the interaction.” [#]
The photographers soon decided that they would shoot portraits of the villagers holding their own portraits, with the instant photos seen in color while the rest of the portrait is converted to monochrome, saying that it “stops time, and mixes the past and present. The present looks like the past, and the past like the present.”
What would you pack if you were assigned to cover a war from the inside? The photo above shows what photographer Umit Bektas decided to pack in his camera bag for his embed with a US military unit in Afghanistan.
I was going to need two cameras but to be on the safe side, I took a third. As I was planning to do a multimedia piece as well, I packed an audio-recorder and GoPro Camera too. Also a Bgan to give me the internet access necessary to transmit my photos and the Thuraya to ensure communication at all events. As I placed my laptop in its bag, I thought “what if it breaks down” and added a nine-inch backup laptop too. Also packed was one spare battery for each piece of equipment that ran on them. For my cameras though, I took two spares each. As I would not be able to carry large lenses, I packed a converter, chargers, cables, memory cards, cleaning kits and adapters. All this filled up my largest bag.
Also in one of his bags was body armor and a helmet: a requirement for being embedded.
Photojournalist João Silva lost his legs to a land mine in Afghanistan at the end of last year, but — after months of intense rehabilitation — returned to work in July, landing a photo on the front page of the New York Times. On August 2nd, Silva visited the Bronx Documentary Center and gave a talk on his thoughts and experiences. Read more…
If you’re subscribed to the New York Times, you might have noticed some unique-looking war photographs featured as the top story when opening up the paper yesterday. The four photographs were actually iPhone photos taken by NYT photographer Damon Winter in Afghanistan, and processed with the popular app Hipstamatic. Earlier this year AP photographer David Guttenfelder did the same thing in Afghanistan with an iPhone and a Polaroid filter app.