It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War, by Lynsey Addario (Penguin, 368 pages, 2015, $29.95, Amazon Best Book of the Month for February 2015)
Stunning Cover Photo Catches Your Eye and Mesmerizes Your Mind
Michael Goldfarb’s cover photo - simply stunning: A side-view silhouette of a woman photographer standing atop a vehicle (Range Rover perhaps?) looking through a camera lens. In the background we see a mountain range but most of the photo is filled with ominous clouds.
Head in the clouds. A lonely photo?
How fitting to have a book written by a photographer with a cover photo of the photographer taken by another photographer to whet your appetite for what’s inside.
What Would You Do?
What would you do if you could live your life over but, this time, start it now? I think many women would opt for the life of an international journalist or war photographer. That is what Linsey Addario did and lived to write a book about it.
“It’s What I Am. It’s What I Do.”
Argentina. Cuba. Afghanistan under Taliban control. Iraq. Darfur. Congo. Haiti. Chad. Pakistan. Israel. Turkey.
Time. Newsweek. National Geographic. The New York Times.
Anthony Shadid. Stephen Farrell. Tyler Hicks. Tim Hetherington.
Pulitzer Prize. MacArthur Genius Grant.
You've Seen Her Photographs
Some photographs are strikingly beautiful;
The Story of a Career
Read how Addario grew up in what might be called a fascinating hippie home or how she survived a gypsy childhood. One of four girls, Addario falls in love with photos and learns what she can on her own. Then she starts at the bottom and convinces great photographers to tell her all they know.
On the job, she shows us that first one must gain rapport of one’s subjects: only when they forget you are there, can one take the photo.
On the job, she must be a team player, with translators and drivers and print journalists and other photographers. And her subjects.
A Quick Read of 368 Pages
And yes, the book is a spellbinder that you will quickly read – all 368 pages of it.
However, if you have more familiarity with one part of the world, perhaps you will start there. If you are not interested in another specific country, you may skip that chapter. That is fine if you read for the vicarious thrill.
But if you really want to know how a photographer develops (no pun intended), and why one finally gives up a profession, you must devour the entire book. You will not be disappointed.
Two Different Worlds
And, yes, she was kidnapped. Twice. And ambushed. And through it all, she returned to the States and her childhood family on a regular basis, perhaps the most difficult transitions of all.
We were amazed that a photographer could write such a moving story. We were there, along with her, holding our breath.
You can be, too.
*the only weakness, if one can call it that, that we found in It’s What I Do concerns the photos, of course – it’s a book about photos and their creator after all. However, not all the photos have captions and some have no paragraphs explaining their placement in a particular book section. A small weakness, indeed.