“I have been a witness, and these pictures are my testimony. The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated.”
Documentary war photographer James Nachtwey, considered by many the greatest war photographer ever, describes some of his experiences as the express elevator to hell. // Poverty, genocide, political unrest. Not just war photography. // Are you a participant or an observer? Is it right to stand back and watch a man get killed? // Famine – the most destructive weapon in war is starvation. // The images are a form of communication, but James never feels complete or satisfied with his work. Over the years his sense of purpose grew stronger - “the subject is more important than myself” James Nachtwey. // He gave up everything for the job. Any normal sense of a relationship or family life. // James has the optimism and belief that war will not be forever and that his photographs will force people to look at it and to make the change. His optimism is what keeps him going. All emotion, anger, remorse he tries to channel into his photographs. // “Is it possible to end human behaviour that has been there since the beginning through photographs? Is photography the anti-dote to war?” James Nachtwey // The photographer is putting himself at risk to mediate for peace – “nothing is worth the pain … If you were there you would change it … But not everyone can be there. That is why you have photographs.” James Nachtwey. // “Personal ambition should not overtake personal passion” James Nachtwey. // He lives with himself because he connects and lives with the subject. // Do these images need to be graphic to get a reaction in today’s de-sentised world? // We are dealing with hugely complex issues. Issues that are often simplified by the mass media and presented as a snippet of entertainment. Images can though effect change, but is it the censorship that actually effects change? Vietnam (James Nachtwey’s inspiration for his career) and the images came back to change public opinion. Since then governments have controlled image, but is again being challenged with the Internet, but having said that, the lay-man is still fed content through media corp and popular websites. Controls therefore come from the consumer. They demand the entertainment and the simplicity. People who buy a photo-book already believe in the subject matter.