Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Of Life and Death - A Photojournalist's World

After three days (so far!) of being at home with lower back muscle spasms, it is quite safe to say that I'm getting cabin fever. Thank goodness for Spongebob and the books I checked out at the library before my injury. One of the books was the awesome and engaging It's What I Do by photojournalist Lynsey Addario

The book starts off with Addario telling about her life growing up in Connecticut with parents who owned a hair salon and lived an eccentric lifestyle. From there, we the readers are then strapped in tightly to the seat in the helicopter as we witness her transformation from a young woman intent on making her mark in the world to an award winning and highly respected photojournalist who shows no fear. Within the book are not only her stark and clear words retelling her many, many moments of life and death being separated by a single thread, but also photos of war, famine, death and disease and the people who were affected by it. Hidden Afghan women. African children slowly dying of malnutrition. American solders gasping for breath with horrible wounds - welcome to the life of a photojournalist. Addario's words transport you to other parts of the world as she races to handle the next assignment from the New York Times all the while trying to balance relationships and a "normal" life when the latest assignment was over. 

Although I have only been a professional photographer for two years, I feel as though I become a member of an organization whose members seek a different way of life. Photographers, in my opinion, see the world so differently than everyone else. According to an article in Lifehack, photographers see beauty in everything, even the things that terrify humans the most. As photographer in residence for Elmwood Cemetery, I see much beauty there, causing many a person to ask me how I can overlook so much Death. I see that everything, be it alive or dead, friend or foe, has a place in the world and therein lies the beauty. I have learned that all it takes is that one photo out of twenty or a hundred that will completely portray what it is that we see. That one shot can speak so many words; sometimes those words are hard to say yet we photographers need only "speak" with our equipment. Addario is a master of such a talent.

 I recently read that It's What I Do will be made into a film; as much as I enjoyed the book, I know I will go see the film, yet I still have the images in my mind that will refuse to go away for some time. 

Thank you, Lynsey, for being such an inspiration. It's simply what you do. 


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