Photojournalists on War
“Except for the most famous conflict photographers, such as W. Eugene Smith and David Douglas Duncan, there are few interviews published that offer an extended view of the craft of conflict photography. The interviews in Photojournalists on War give the experience a full voice, and?I know of no other comparable collection for any post-Vietnam conflict …”
—Anne Wilkes Tucker, Curator of Photography, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
The photojournalists who documented the war in Iraq faced a new kind of urban warfare. To the roadside bombs, snipers, and Katyusha rockets, Iraq added assassins, kidnappers and deadly street mobs; each photographer soon became as much target as observer. Tellingly, more photojournalists were killed in Iraq than in any other modern conflict; hundreds were abducted and wounded, or narrowly escaped death. Despite the great personal risks, some stayed and worked amidst increasingly brutal conditions as the war escalated from “shock and awe” invasion, to occupation, to insurgency, to civil war. With visceral, previously unpublished photographs and eyewitness accounts by an incredibly diverse group of the world’s top news photographers, Photojournalists on War (University of Texas Press, May 2013) presents a groundbreaking new visual and oral history of America’s nine-year conflict in the Middle East.
Michael Kamber, a writer and photojournalist for over 25 years, who covered the Iraq War for the New York Times between 2003 and 2012, interviewed thirty-nine colleagues for the book, many of them from leading news organizations including Agence France-Presse, the Associated Press, the Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, Magnum, Newsweek, the New York Times, Paris Match, Reuters, Time, the Times of London, VII Photo Agency, and the Washington Post.
The in-depth interviews presented in Photojournalists at War offer candid and honest first-person, frontline reports of the war as it unfolded, including key moments such as the battle for Fallujah, the toppling of Saddam’s statue, and the Haditha massacre. The photographers vividly describe the often shocking and sometimes heroic actions they and other journalists undertook in trying to cover the war, and the role of the media and issues of censorship that changed as the war intensified. This book also includes accounts by photographers who photographed the war at home, documenting the conflict from the perspective of families of servicemen and women whose lives were changed forever.
The hard-hitting accounts of these practitioners would be rare in the annals of any war, yet here they reveal the inside and untold stories behind the headlines in Iraq. Each interview is logged with the year and location it took place, and is accompanied by a selection of the photographer’s work made on and off the battlefield. The book includes meticulous details, including a timeline of the war in Iraq, maps showing the key locations of the conflict, biographies on the contributing photographers, a glossary of war terms, and even a copy of the news media ground rules that photographers had to sign in order to embed with the American military. Photojournalists on War is the closest we have come on the written page to the experience of modern warfare. This powerful volume is a necessary addition to the libraries of those interested in photography, photojournalism, and the history of modern warfare, humanism, media studies, and censorship.
Michael Kamber, Bronx, New York, was the Times’ principal photographer in Baghdad in 2007, the bloodiest year of the war. He has covered a dozen conflicts for the Times over the past decade, including Somalia, Afghanistan, the Congo, and Liberia. Kamber is an adjunct professor at Columbia University, and also teaches at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, and the International Center of Photography. He is the founder of the Bronx Documentary Center (www.bronxdoc.org) and is the recipient of a World Press Photo award as well as many other awards.