My Best Shot

NPhoto - - Contents -

Lynsey Ad­dario re­calls cap­tur­ing a har­row­ing mo­ment in Afghanistan

23 Oc­to­ber, 2007

Afghanistan “This is an im­age of four sol­diers at­tached to the 173rd Air­borne, Bat­tle Com­pany, car­ry­ing the body of Sergeant Rougle through

Nikon D2xs the Abas Ghar ridge­line, about an hour af­ter we were am­bushed by the Tal­iban,” ex­plains Pulitzer Prizewin­ning pho­to­jour­nal­ist Lynsey Ad­dario. “Three mem­bers of the Scout team were shot at al­most point-blank range, and Rougle was killed. As a pho­tog­ra­pher who has cov­ered war for 15 years, I still find it dif­fi­cult to cap­ture the drama of com­bat, and the toll of war.

“Along with a re­porter, I had spent al­most two months liv­ing with Bat­tle Com­pany. When we first ar­rived, it was pretty clear the sol­diers were du­bi­ous about our pres­ence there (we were two women), and doubted whether we’d be able to keep up with their rig­or­ous pa­trols, but by the end of the em­bed, we had gained their trust.

“The em­bed cul­mi­nated in a week-long Bat­tal­ion-wide mis­sion, called Op­er­a­tion Rock Avalanche, where we were air­lifted into a den of the coun­try’s in­sur­gency, and went look­ing for Tal­iban and weapons. We walked for days through the moun­tains with our be­long­ings on our back along­side the troops, slept in ditches, doc­u­ment­ing first-hand what life was like for US troops along the front­line. But noth­ing sym­bol­ised the cost of war more than a life lost.

“When Rougle was killed, I didn’t know whether I would have been per­mit­ted to pho­to­graph had I not spent so much time with the troops; the death of a sol­dier is ar­guably the most sen­si­tive, emo­tional time for troops in bat­tle. But as they ap­proached, car­ry­ing Rougle’s body in a body bag, and I asked per­mis­sion to pho­to­graph, they con­sented. We were all weep­ing. Be­ing able to doc­u­ment that in­ti­mate mo­ment was a priv­i­lege on many lev­els – most im­por­tantly, be­cause I was able to cap­ture the broth­er­hood, and the tragic loss of life.”

The re­ac­tion

“I don’t know how the pub­lic re­sponded to this im­age when it was first pub­lished. I think it has gained recog­ni­tion over time. If I could take this shot again, I prob­a­bly would have pushed more for­ward, di­rectly to the lo­ca­tion where the Scout team was am­bushed. I was rat­tled, though, and when I came upon the first wounded sol­dier be­ing tended to, I chose to stay with them, and ac­com­pany them to the mede­vac he­li­copter.

“In a del­i­cate sit­u­a­tion such as this, it is less about the cam­era than the ap­proach. You need to en­sure the set­tings are fixed for light/speed ahead of time so you can fo­cus on the mo­ment. Beyond this, it is im­por­tant to be re­spect­ful, to un­der­stand that a cam­era is not al­ways wel­come, to ask per­mis­sion, and to be cog­nisant of the fact that some­one’s friend, brother, son, or hus­band has just lost his life.”

Ge­off Har­ris

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.