Monday, January 10, 2011

Photographic Wars

World Press Photo Winner, Adam Ferguson talks with Simon Robinson, Thomson Reuters' Enterprise Editor for Europe the Middle East and Africa about being a war photographer on assignment in Afghanistan in a discussion at the Frontline Club in London.

Ferguson says: "It’s easy to romanticize the life of a photojournalist. But, in reality, it’s tough. You go on long patrols, you eat bad food, you get shot at….but one of the best things there is about being a photojournalist is getting insight into other people’s lives and in getting into situations one normally wouldn’t get into."

How photographers take part in wars has always intrigued me, how do they deal with the inevitable situations of blood, death and destruction both mentally and physically but in deciding what images they should and shouldn't take and not having control over what images their editors will eventually publish?

Ferguson says: "The bloodier the better. The way war is presented is very sanitized. We have to challenge the romantic notion of war. I want to explore the quiet moments in war- present the burden and the frustration...The editorial line of Time magazine doesn’t interfere with my work. And they’ve been pretty brave with the kind of images of Afghanistan that they publish."

The image Fergusson won with at the World Press Photo Awards, Spot News: 1st prize singles

The image by Fergusson which won the first prize for Spot News immediately conveys the urgency and confusion of the moments after a suicide car bomb in Kabul.  Images included in the World Press Photo Awards are a times more shocking than you would find in everyday newspapers.  Magazines like Time do an important job in providing a platform for images, like the majority taken by Ferguson, to be published and made accessible to the public.

On his website, Fergusson goes into more depth about some of his images, the people who are in them and the surrounding situations.  This helps to understand each image and to grasp the full extent of what is happening in them.

These images are some of the most unique and atmospheric I've come across, from personal portraits of the troops Ferguson is traveling with to sweeping landscapes of countryside and mountains.

The discussion with Adam Fergusson took place at the Frontline Club, London on 10 November 2010.  The full article can be seen at where there is also a podcast and video of the discussion.  Images sourced from and

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