Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Tag Archives: war photography

Vietnam: The Real War by Associated Press photographers – Exhibition

30th April is the anniversary of the fall of Saigon,  The Associated Press is recognizing the significance of the Vietnam War with an extraordinary photo exhibit in London. “Vietnam: The Real War, A Photographic History by The Associated Press” will open April 8 at the Guardian News and Media’s gallery at its Kings Cross headquarters.

To cover the Vietnam War, AP gathered a group of superb photojournalists in its Saigon bureau, creating one of the greatest photographic legacies of the 20th century. From Malcolm Browne’s photograph of the burning monk to Nick Ut’s famous picture of a nine-year-old running from a Napalm attack, these photographs capture the experience and tragedy of people caught in a war of insurgency in which everyone was suspect.
AP won six Pulitzer Prizes for its war coverage, four of them for photography. Now, drawn from AP’s photo history of the conflict, “Vietnam: The Real War,” a selection of these images can be viewed at the exhibit; telling the human story behind the war.
“The Vietnam War left its mark on AP, taking the lives of four of our photographers, but we made an unprecedented commitment to report on it,” said Santiago Lyon, AP’s director of photography. “Thanks to an uncensored press the world saw more of this war than any other. This exhibit now allows an even wider audience access to the photographic record of the tragedy of it.”
The exhibit runs until the end of May 2015 and is open each day from 10.00 to 18.00, Guardian News & Media, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Admission is free.

The BBC seems to be upping it’s game in relation to photography, everyday there is a new article or feature and unlike most publications you rarely see a sunset or pictures of ducks. Today they have a series of pictures by Associated Press photographers from the Vietnam War, here is a link to the full article


Nearly 60,000 US soldiers died in Vietnam, with more than 300,000 injured. For the Vietnamese, though, the figures were far higher, with estimates of more than half a million killed and many millions wounded.


While in Saigon, Faas trained and mentored young Vietnamese photographers who made many of the war’s defining images. Their daily photos from Vietnam helped inform the world of the traumas faced by people caught in the cross-fire of conflict.


From a journalist’s perspective the war in Vietnam was unique. It was the first war in modern times without censorship, where reporters and photographers were allowed virtually unrestricted access to the battlefields.


Another was Nick Ut’s picture of nine-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phuc – a young girl, running naked and terrified down the road after a napalm attack – which became one of the iconic images of the entire conflict.


During the conflict, AP’s Saigon bureau won six Pulitzer Prizes for its war coverage, four of them for photography.

See the rest of these powerful images here

Here is more from AP  Explore The Real War


Bringing the front line to UK streets – by Robert Wilson

Robert Wilson, a successful commercial photographer, first went to Afghanistan by chance. He had never been to a war zone before. His journey from the advertising studios of Europe to the deserts of Helmand province began seven years ago when an enthusiastic amateur photographer, Euan Goodman, came to see him for some advice….As seen on the BBC website




_77986170_afrafplaneThis is really good stuff, go and look at all the images  and here 


Conflict Photography Workshop

One area of photography that we over here at OSP Towers have no experience in is conflict or more accurately war photography and I honestly hope we never will gain that experience. So we can’t teach a course in staying alive (cue Bee Gees) but there is such a workshop running and here are the details

The main aim of Conflict Photography Workshop is to familiarize the participants who may be considering going to work in hostile environments, specifically war zones with the various threats they may encounter and to educate them on how do deal with these dangers and to work with a higher degree of safety and security.

No professional soldier is sent to war without extensive training. Photographers who operate in exactly the same battle space without any training, experience or proper preparation put themselves in increased danger and potentially put others around them at risk also.

Even basic training and forward planning can minimize the risks hugely.

Instances of extreme danger often last only seconds or minutes and can arrive without warning. Ones chances of surviving are multiplied if one has already properly prepared themselves for the danger and has a preplanned course of action ready.

The team of instructors have a combined experience of more than 60 years spent working in many of the most dangerous places on earth including Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, Chechnya, Syria etc… Not only has their work appeared in every major publication in the world and they have received numerous awards for the work including multiple World Press, POYi and the Pulitzer but most importantly they also have real time, first hand knowledge of dealing with the multiple threats and extreme risk associated with working in these war zones. 

Over six days participants will receive both theoretical and practical training in everything from Battle Field First Aid Drills and IED awareness through to editing, captioning and ethical behavior as well as how to work, survive and maintain themselves and their equipment in the field whilst covering combat operations. 

This workshop will not ‘qualify’ you to work in a conflict zone nor are we actively encouraging people to enter dangerous situations but we do guarantee that by the end of this unique course you will be far better equipped and prepared for doing so.


Further information here


Iraq 10 years on: a photographer’s story – video

Iraq 10 years on: a photographer's story – video | World news | guardian.co.uk.

Award-winning photographer Sean Smith describes the experience of being on the frontline in Iraq and explains why he was driven to return again and again. Smith follows the progress of troops battling against opposition and sectarian attack. His photos are a bloody and unmediated record of the Iraq war and a reminder of the importance of photography

• An exhibition of Sean Smith’s Iraq photographs are on display at the IWM North in Manchester until 29 March

James Nachtwey

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.

James Nachtwey

James Nachtwey grew up in Massachusetts and graduated from Dartmouth College, where he studied Art History and Political Science (1966-70). Images from the Vietnam War and the American Civil Rights movement had a powerful effect on him and were instrumental in his decision to become a photographer. He has worked aboard ships in the Merchant Marine, and while teaching himself photography, he was an apprentice news film editor and a truck driver.

In 1976 he started work as a newspaper photographer in New Mexico, and in 1980, he moved to New York to begin a career as a freelance magazine photographer. His first foreign assignment was to cover civil strife in Northern Ireland in 1981 during the IRA hunger strike. Since then, Nachtwey has devoted himself to documenting wars, conflicts and critical social issues. He has worked on extensive photographic essays in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, South Africa, Russia, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Romania, Brazil and the United States.

Nachtwey has been a contract photographer with Time Magazine since 1984. He was associated with Black Star from 1980 – 1985 and was a member of Magnum from 1986 until 2001. In 2001, he became one of the founding members of the photo agency, VII. He has been exhibited all over the world

(c) Antonin Kratochvil. All Rights Reserve

James Nachtwey TED Talks Lecture

James Nachtwey Time Photos September 11 2011

“When the attack first started, I was in my apartment in the South Street Sea Port, directly across Lower Manhattan. I heard a sound that was out of the ordinary. I’m far enough away so that it wasn’t alarming but it was definitely out of the ordinary. It came from the direction of the World Trade Center so I went to the window and saw the tower burning.”………..MORE                 Digital Journalist by Peter Howe

Afghanistan, 1996 – Mourning a brother killed by a Taliban rocket.

SeeJames Nachtwey’s astonishing images on his website here

Associated links : http://vsmeets.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/as-close-as-it-gets-james-nachtwey/

Associated links Empty Kingdom

Photojournalist James Nachtwey is considered by many to be the greatest war photographer of recent decades. He has covered conflicts and major social issues in more than 30 countries.

Why you should listen to him:

For the past three decades, James Nachtwey has devoted himself to documenting wars, conflicts and critical social issues, working in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, South Africa, Russia, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Romania, Brazil and the United States.

Nachtwey has been a contract photographer with Time since 1984. However, when certain stories he wanted to cover — such as Romanian orphanages and famine in Somalia — garnered no interest from magazines, he self-financed trips there. He is known for getting up close to his subjects, or as he says, “in the same intimate space that the subjects inhabit,” and he passes that sense of closeness on to the viewer.

In putting himself in the middle of conflict, his intention is to record the truth, to document the struggles of humanity, and with this, to wake people up and stir them to action.

He is the winner of the 2007 TED Prize, awarding him $100,000 and one wish to change the world. This was his wish: “I’m working on a story that the world needs to know about. I wish for you to help me break it in a way that provides spectacular proof of the power of news photography in the digital age.”

On October 3, the story breaks … and we would like you to witness it.

“Reticent about discussing his own life beyond the basic facts, he’s clearly one of those rare characters who focus singularly on their work with a missionary-like sense of purpose.” — Salon.com

TED Prize about James

There is a job to be done…to record the truth. I want to wake people up! – James Nachtwey

I want my work to become part of our visual history, to enter our collective memory and our collective conscience. I hope it will serve to remind us that history’s deepest tragedies concern not the great protagonists who set events in motion but the countless ordinary people who are caught up in those events and torn apart by their remorseless fury. 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. – James Nachtwey – International Center of Photography Press Release

I used to call myself a war photographer. Now I consider myself as an antiwar photographer. – James Nachtwey

I want to record history through the destiny of individuals who often belong to the least wealthy classes. I do not want to show war in general, nor history with a capital H, but rather the tragedy of a single man, of a family. – James Nachtwey

It is very hard to say where you’re going until you get there. That kind of thing is based very much on instinct. As a photographer, one of the most important lessons I have learnt is that you have to learn to listen to and trust your own instinct. It has helped to guide me – this far at least. – James Nachtwey – “World Press Photo 1996 Yearbook”

Don McCullin – Photographer

If you are British and interested in photography along with David Bailey and probably Lord Litchfield you will have heard of Don McCullin. McCullin is undoubtedly Britain’s most celebrated war photographer, there have been many others, a number sadly now gone like Tim Hetherington, but McCullin is the one we all know. His story is from a poor and under privaleged background, not something that can be said of many of the greats of the photography world, to international recognition.

There is a most excellent exclusive interview by Colin Jacobson in the BJP called Shaped by War: Don McCullin in profile here

“An interview with Don McCullin is never going to be a dull affair. He is a complex man who has told the story of his life many times before. He is unfailingly polite and gentlemanly, but one detects a slightly weary tone as he goes over the familiar ground. He often pre-empts the questions with clinical self-awareness.

The story of McCullin’s rise from the impoverished backstreets of Finsbury Park in north London to becoming one of the world’s best-known photographers is one of fortuitous good luck…..
McCullin, who was becoming a bit of a tearaway, started taking photographs of ‘The Guvners’, a local gang. It happened that one of these hoodlums killed a policeman. McCullin was persuaded to show a group portrait of the gang to The Observer. It published the photo and this led to his burgeoning career as a photographer for the newspaper.”

“That gang picture was the ticket to rest of my life,” he reminisces. ‘£5 was the cost of my life as a photographer – that’s what my mother paid to redeem the camera I had pawned.”

In 1964, The Observer asked if he would like to cover the civil war that was hotting up in Cyprus. McCullin was elated. It was his first real foray into a conflict zone and the photographs he produced were remarkable, arguably still some of his finest work. They catapulted him into the international arena of photojournalism.”

Harold Evans, editor of UK’s The Sunday Times, recounts an incident that took place during a routine firefight in some nondescript zone of conflict in some obscure corner of the globe. People were screaming, gunfire was rattling, everybody was running and ducking for cover…and Don McCullin stopped long enough to take an exposure reading. Afterwards he said, “What’s the point of getting killed if you’ve got the wrong exposure?”

“Harold Evans, editor-in-chief of the Sunday Times during the period of McCullin’s finest magazine work, places him alongside Robert Capa, Larry Burrows and Philip Jones-Griffiths as one of the greatest war photographers ever.”…..

“Rand feels that the plight of the poor and dispossessed brought out the best in him, and Evans agrees, telling me, “He cared about the victims, the ‘collateral damage’. He couldn’t express it in words but he expressed it in his photography.”

McCullin himself attributes his capacity for empathy partly to his own harsh childhood, including some miserable experiences when he was evacuated during the war. Nevertheless, McCullin now seems ambivalent and uneasy revisiting those heady magazine days.”

As you can see this is a wide ranging and excellent interview, as is so often the case with the BJP, if you would like to read more here is the link

Body of a North Vietnamese soldier, Hue, Vietnam, 1968 (c) Don McCullin, courtesy Contact Press Images Europe

“I came across the body of a young Viet Cong soldier. Some American soldiers were abusing him verbally and stealing his things as souvenirs. It upset me – if this man was brave enough to fight for the freedom of his country, he should have respect. I posed him with his few possessions for a purpose, for a reason, to make a statement. You see, I’d developed a mind by then, I was my own man and I’d got attitudes. I felt I had a kind of puritanical obligation to give this dead man a voice.”

………………….In these later days of his life, McCullin is preoccupied with the landscape and nature around him in Somerset. He has described his love of landscape as “herbal medicine for my mind”. He is scornful about fame, comparing it, tellingly, to a “smelling body”, but is honest enough to admit he enjoyed it when it came to him in the past. He says he has not become rich out of photography, but is rich in lifestyle, taking spiritual energy from his life in the countryside.”

Here are just a few of the books he has produced of the years, this link takes you to the Amazon pages for Don McCullin
Further reading, articles and videos

 John Tusa  BBC Radio Interview with Don McCullin

Subscribe to BJP and save money. Click here to save 29% today.

Five years in Afghanistan

Canadian photographer Louie Palu has been photographing the conflict in Afghanistan for the past five years. During that time his work from the frontlilne has been widely published and has won him numerous awards, including Canadian photojournalist of the year. Now, however, his focus is shifting to editing the work into a comprehensive record of the country’s latest conflict, and with that comes a chance to see his pictures of a quieter Afghanistan.

Louie made his first trip to Kandahar in 2006 while on assignment for The Globe and Mail, a national newspaper in Canada, and since then has undertaken five additional trips working independently between 2007 and 2010, in total spending approximately 18 months in the field. Full article….

Louie’s website has more wonderful images so if you like what you see go and have a look there as well as at the BBC article.