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.
Here’s a fascinating video in which Italian photographer Ruben Salvadori demonstrates how dishonest many conflict photographs are. Salvadori spent a significant amount of time in East Jerusalem, studying the role photojournalists play in what the world sees. By turning his camera on the photographers themselves, he shows how photojournalists often influence the events they’re supposed to document objectively, and how photographers are often pushed to seek and create drama even in situations that lack it.
You might start looking at conflict photos in the news a lot differently after watching this.
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…
Anyone who says they aren’t frightened during war is either lying or a fool. It’s about finding a way of dealing with the fear – you have to be very calm. You’re not there to get your rocks off; you’re there because you feel your pictures can make a difference.
– Tom Stoddart
It’s amazing the kinds of dangerous situations photographers place themselves into to serve as the world’s eyes during wars and conflicts.
New York Times photographer Lynsey Addario was recently released along with three male journalists after being taken captive in Libya. After details of her abuse was reported in the news, there were immediately reactions from those who believe that female journalists shouldn’t be assigned to war zones because of the risks. Addario responded yesterday, saying:
If a woman wants to be a war photographer, she should. It’s important. Women offer a different perspective. We have access to women on a different level than men have, just as male photographers have a different relationship with the men they’re covering.
[...] when I was in Libya, I was groped by a dozen men. But why is that more horrible than what happened to Tyler or Steve or Anthony — being smashed on the back of the head with a rifle butt? Why isn’t anyone saying men shouldn’t cover war? Women and men should do what they believe they need to do.
I don’t think it’s more dangerous for a woman to do conflict photography. Both men and women face the same dangers.
There’s a photography joke that goes, “If you saw a man drowning and you could either save him or photograph the event… what kind of film would you use?”. While this might be a lighthearted jab at photo-lovers, it also reminds us of a very real dilemma photojournalists are often confronted with — the struggle between doing their job by documenting reality and getting involved in the reality they need to document. The short film above, titled “Moment of Truth – Photographer”, provides a powerful glimpse into the mental and emotional toll wartime photojournalists undoubtedly pay quite often.
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.
If James Nachtwey were a street photographer, he wouldn’t be the type to stand on the opposite sidewalk and stealthily capture unsuspecting strangers using a telephoto lens. As you can see from the photograph above, Nachtwey has a fearless attitude when shooting in dangerous situations, getting up close and personal with the subjects.
The photo is from a documentary titled “War Photographer” by Christian Fei, which was nominated for an Academy Award (Best Documentary Film) in 2002. The film follows Nachtwey for two years as he documents conflicts in Kosovo, Rawanda, Indonesia, and the West Bank. Read more…