The war photographer James Nachtwey 2/09/2006 12:50

Last night, I went to draw at the Museum of Fine Art. The museum is free on Wednesday evenings. At the coat room on the floor, there was laying a ticket. I asked if it was anyone’s and everyone said “no” and no one picked it up, I guessed because it was free anyway. In thinking that I had another friend coming to draw and not to waste paper to print another ticket, I picked it up. It was a ticket to a lecture “Photography of Conflict and Critical Social Issues” given by a renowned war photographer James Nacthwey. Though renowned, it was my first time to know this name.

The lecture was at 7 pm and it was 6:30. So I went to draw. I wasn’t sure whether the lecture was free also on Wednesday night. I checked a museum booklet and found out that it wasn’t free. So I went to the lecture. By chance, I had the opportunity to see Nachtwey’s war photos. He is a man almost 60 now, tall, thin but masculine. He has to be, thinking that in the past over 25 years, he has been at the world most dangerous places to take photos of people at war, people with disease and world famine.

The lecture was given partly by showing his photos on the big screen and party by his presentation, and ended by questions and answers. In the website I gave above, you can see the photos he took. And in the bio, you will get to know him a little. In his last night introduction, he talked about why he became a war photographer. He is a man of low-key but who holds his purpose very steadily, that’s my impression. He basically took the war photography as his mission and that’s how he started (after college). When he started, there was nothing indicating that he would be good at it but deeply he knew he could do it. He explained that it wasn’t his focus or strength to explore the photograph’s beauty, but he took it as a tool to reveal social issues. He thinks himself a witness of human suffering because of war, disease or famine, or industrial pollution, etc., and he hopes to use his photography as mass media to raise awareness, and eventually eliminate the causes of sufferings. But he acknowledges very modestly that it is beyond his ability. His ability is to record it and to let it be known. He believes that consciousness will awake the conscience, and the conscience will become actions and pressures forcing political parties to be responsible.

This is a man who does what he can. When asked that “it is not always clear about stories behind pictures”, he modestly acknowledged the limit of photography; answered that other media may be more effective in presenting stories. When asked what his suggestions for young people who want to choose a career as such, he simply said he certainly did not recommend it to anyone, only if the person felt that it was his/her purpose of life. One person asked him about his techniques in photography, and why some were in black and white while others were in color. He said that for him, the skills were rudimentary. For war photography, it was more about perception; and about you could capture what you wanted at the moment when it was happening. It was clear that he preferred black and white for its nature of abstraction. He thinks that color is so powerful that color itself can become the subject of a photo; so it can be distracting too. If you go through the photos on the above link, you will notice that when he indeed used color, he used it stingily but effectively
昨晚去了一堂课. 老师放了一个反映James Nachtwey的纪录片.

放之前, 老师问有人知道他吗? 只有一个人举手. 不是我.

后来看到上面的照片, 我才意识到就是这个人.


The War Photographer: a film by Christian Frei.

It is quite good for any one who is interested in photography or journalism or both.
wildcrane at 1/27/2009 10:20 快速引用
感动 崇拜 牛

rogerlee at 1/27/2009 13:25 快速引用
rogerlee :
感动 崇拜 牛




他自己说:he channeled his emotions into his work. 他愿意相信,他把问题用相片暴露出来,会最终影响到政府政治,会从根本上根治暴力,战争,饥荒,和贫困,但其实你也可以看出他并不能相信自己的工作一定有这样的作用。


其次,他40岁才去从事这样的职业,不知40岁以前什么样的经历led to his pursue to such a carieer?

I am now also curious whether war photographers have special persona?
wildcrane at 1/27/2009 13:46 快速引用
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