A photographer writes: Lynsey Addario's "It's What I Do"

I have always been drawn to conflict photography.  If every picture tells a story, great conflict photographs speak volumes and the photographers behind each image have been the source of endless thought and speculation.  "How do they get access?  "How do they handle the stress?"  "What possesses them to put themselves in harm's way?"  Last month I bought "It's What I do - A Photographer's Life of Love and War" by Lynsey Addario.  Addario is a foreign correspondent photographer who has spent her time behind the camera in the world's most dangerous places, at the very worst times.

The book tells the story of a photographer coming to grips with her craft, competing in a world that does not favor her gender, and the balance between life in the trenches of war and the neighborhoods of her personal life when she returns from an assignment.

But for me "It's What I Do" chronicles the evolution of Lynsey's personal photographic style.  Cutting her teeth on last-minute assignments, dispatched by editors managing gaggles of freelancers, starting to travel to unfamiliar lands, navigating the landscape and making up the rules as she goes along, on to reaching journalistic heights with meaningful work that impacted governmental policy, to finally moving from deadline driven frenzy to creating art.  Ultimately the story is Lynsey's journey to understand her subjects so deeply she finds beauty in despair - and captures it for all to see.

That part of the story resonates with many photographers who spend sometimes years evolving their photography into something that ultimately satisfies the reason they picked up the camera in the first place.  Lynsey's search and drive for the truth is what turns this book into such a personal journey.

In a particularly poignant passage, Lynsey is on assignment for National Geographic and, just few months after her release from being held captive in Libya, she feels that in order to get the real story of her assignment, she must venture into Somalia, widely regarded at that time as none of the very most dangerous places a journalist can go.  And she does go, because she simply has to.

The book is liberally sprinkled with photographs and is tough to put down.  "It's What I do - A Photographer's Life of Love and War" by Lynsey Addario is published by Penguin Press.

Photos used without permission and I hope its ok!

Michael Cohen1 Comment