Photojournalism

June 12, 2016

When disaster strikes, photojournalists run toward it instead of away. Usually, with a camera in hand. Their job is to get up close to tragedy and danger, to document things we need to see, in the hopes of somehow making a difference.  This hour we’re talking with some of the world’s great photojournalists.  And, remembering NPR war photographer David Gilkey – killed with his translator this week while on assignment in Afghanistan.

  1. Is the Risk of Photojournalism Worth It?

    This week all of us – public radio listeners and producers -- were shocked and saddened by the death of NPR photojournalist David Gilkey.  He and his translator, Zabihullah "Zabi" Tamann, were killed while they were on assignment in Afghanistan, when the convoy they were traveling in was ambushed by Taliban.    Photojournalists like David go places most of us wouldn’t want to go, they take pictures of things we may not want to see… They risk their lives, hoping to send back that one image that just might change someone’s mind or open someone’s heart. 

    David Gilkey spoke on a panel with some other public radio journalists a couple of years ago.   He’d just gotten back from Liberia, where he was covering the Ebola epidemic and he told us about a single photo he took – a picture of a little boy.

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  2. James Nachtwey on Covering Conflicts on the Ground

    Great war photographers bring a tremendous sense of mission to their work.  Most of them believe the right image seen by enough people at the right time can change the world.  Maybe not right away – but in time.  Over the past 30 years, the photographer James Nachtwey has covered just about every major armed conflict in the world.  He's been shot and wounded more than once, and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize ten times.  We talked with him when he had just put together an exhibition of photos he took in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the place those wars began - Ground Zero on 9/11.

     

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  3. The Aesthetic Beauty of War Photography

    There are moral and ethical issues that come up around war photography. Writer David Shields charged the New York Times with glamorizing war in photographs.  Shields analyzed 100’s of pictures published on the front page of the Times and last year he wrote a book accusing the paper of making war beautiful.  Charles Monroe-Kane sat down to talk with him.

     

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  4. Capturing Manufactured Landscapes

    Anyone who works in news will tell you that photographs drive attention.  That a great photograph can propel a story or an issue from the sidelines to the center of a public conversation.  Large-scale photographer Edward Burtynsky is making it his life’s work to jump start a global conversation about sustainability – by photographing scarred, damaged industrial landscapes.  He’s a TED prize winner whose work is in more than 50 museum collections.  Burtynsky and filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal have worked together on two documentaries.  Steve Paulson talked with her about their first – filmed in China.  It’s called  “Manufactured Landscapes.”

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  5. Photography Beyond Tragedy

    The stereotype of photojournalists is that they’re adrenaline junkies.  Risk takers.  But they're often surprisingly humble about their work -- maybe because their job is to erase themselves, to become the lens that lets us see the world.  Here photojournalist Brendan Bannon talks about finding beauty in the midst of suffering and about a photo he took at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. 

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  6. Revisiting Susan Sontag On the Pain of Others

    Taking pictures of war is complicated. The late philosopher Susan Sontag thought a lot about the moral implications of taking and looking at photos of human conflict. She wrote a classic book on the subject, called “Regarding the Pain of Others.”  We're revisiting our interview with her, about how to see and think about photography.

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