Lauren Starling Reflection 11 April 2011 War Photographer After watching Christian Frei’s Academy Award winning documentary on James Nachtwey in War Photographer, it is difficult for one not to get emotionally involved in the film. I was captivated by the quotation in the introduction to the film that says, “ If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough. ” It really makes you step back and think about all of the pictures we have seen in textbooks, magazines, or anywhere during war time and how photographers are able to capture the detailed photographs.
Nachtwey’s voiceovers were also intriguing. His voiceovers discussed how he decided to become a photojournalist, that dealt specifically with war. Nachtwey went on to say that when covering war material he is forced to separate himself from the emotions brought up by the pictures.
Nachtwey states that one day he woke up and decided to go to New York and become a magazine photographer of war. I remember thinking to myself, “why would anyone want to put themselves in this type of situation to get themselves hurt or be emotionally affected somehow? He said the goal of his career is to give the victims a voice by having their picture taken. Watching him throughout the documentary move about the flames and people with such determination and focus was riveting, as he took shot after shot of someone’s face or a tragedy. I was concerned on how this job has changed him, and he answers it perfectly when he describes the characteristics of a photojournalist of war. Nachtwey describes it as an emotional detachment like other careers, such as nursing and reporting.
Photojournalists have to separate themselves from the experiences and not make it personal for them. As the documentary shows Nachtwey moving about the scene, you can see it perfectly in his eyes that he is clearly there for the best shot. One also naturally wonders how reporters get through these conditions physically. Nachtwey has been wounded, injured and suffered diseases from the time spent amongst the villages and war zones during his career. I was very impressed how Frei portrayed not only the war photographers, but also their personalities and how there were conveyed in the documentary.War Photographer depicts a precise image and description of James Nachtwey’s career, but I chose to research more about him and his accomplishments. Of course, images from the documentary were memorable and a few that turned my stomach, but one I saw on the internet is a picture of two XDR-TB victims.
I found it most memorable because the people are clearly emaciated and suffering, but Nachtwey chose to take this picture because tuberculosis has turned into a more serious illness with different strains that have yet to find a cure.Many other pictures validated that Nachtway truly is concerned with giving suffering victims a voice, and seeks solution. In 2007, James Nachtwey won the TED Prize, which gives him $100,000 and a chance to make a difference in the world. Also, he has been the winner of the Heinz Award, Dan David Prize, and Overseas Press Club, to name a few. I was charmed by the way Christiane Amanpour spoke of Nachtwey. She seems inspired by his work and I remember being inspired by what she said because it seems to be how everyone throughout the film saw him as well.