It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario

I will always read stories of female combat photographers. I have never not been entranced by these women who put themselves in harm’s way because they feel the deep-seated need to get the truth out to people all over the world.

It’s What I Do was just released on February 5th of this year. I found out about it the day before it was published, and picked up a copy the day of. I finally got around to reading it this week, and was not disappointed.

“Walking between worlds is one of the great privileges of the foreign correspondent.”

Lynsey Addario, p.247

I look up to Addario as a huge inspiration. Both for the sacrifices she’s made for her career, and because of the high-calibre of her body of work.

Everything I read made me more in awe: her time as a fledgling photographer working in Buenos Aires struggling to capture photos of Madonna on a balcony with an inadequate lens; her drinking tea with Taliban leaders; her shooting in refugee camps during the crisis in Darfur; her climbing up rock faces during six-hour march days carrying 40+ pounds of gear in the Korangal Valley in Afghanistan while embedded with American troops; her week-long capture by Qaddafi’s troops in Libya.

It might seem sensational when listed out, but Addario’s way of telling paints her very much as a human being constantly torn by the conflicting psychological aspects of war, and less of the adrenaline-junkie stereotype that is often associated with conflict photographers.

Read this if you’re interested in: modern war, history, women’s rights, the War on Terror, photography, the middle east, Africa.

Here are some of my favourite passages:

“I became fascinated by the notion of dispelling stereotypes or misconceptions through photographs, of presenting the counterintuitive.” (p.93)

“I was now a photojournalist willing to die for stories that had the potential to educate people. I wanted to make people think, to open their minds, to give them a full picture of what  was happening in Iraq so they could decide whether they supported out presence there. When I risked by life to ultimately be censored by someone sitting in a cushy office in New York, who was deciding on behalf of regular Americans what was too harsh for their eyes, depriving them of the right to see what their own children were fighting, I was furious.” (p.172)

“I moved around the desert camp self-consciously, a white, well-fed woman trudging through their misery. The people understood that I was an international journalist, but I was still trying to figure out how to take pictures of them without compromising their dignity. As much as it would be natural to compare this misery to that in Iraq, it was impossible. Iraq and Darfur were two different worlds, yet my role was always the same: Tread lightly, be respectful, get into the story as deeply as I could without making the subject feel uncomfortable or objectified. I always approached them gingerly, smiling, using their traditional greeting.The Sudanese spoke Arabic in addition to their local languages, so it was familiar to me. “Salaam aleikum,” I would say, and then, “Kef halic? Ana sahafiya.” (How are you? I am a journalist.) “Sura mashi? Mish Mushkila?” (Photo OK? No problem?)” (p.179)

Definitely read this.

Or, watch it. Warner Brothers has bought the rights to the film, which will allegedly be directed by Stephen Spielberg, and star Jennifer Lawrence.

If you liked this book, I would also recommend A Photojournalists Field Guide by Stacy Pearsall. It’s more of a how-to guide, but it also contains a lot of anecdotes from her life as a military photojournalist.

I’m reading 41 books this year. See original post here.

Author: Mel Hattie

Hi, Iโ€™m Mel, blogger and tea sommelier at Mel Had Tea. I love to explore, learn, and meet new people. Nothing inspires me more than reading, traveling the world, talking to strangers, and drinking tea.

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