Lynsey Addario’s autobiography and photographs are clear, direct, candid, and not for the faint of heart, so this is a cautionary warning. Her calling is war photography and with a world rocking off its hinges with conflicts, revolts, and wars, mostly undeclared, she has been steadily employed.
Her obsession with photography began when her father casually handed over a Nikon FG to the thirteen-year-old Lynsey. At university she majored in international relations, but never imagined that photography could be a profession. A student year abroad in Italy provided opportunities to earn money from her photography and ignited a need to travel. In her twenties, along with traveling in Europe, South America, Cuba, she relentlessly pursued work with various news agencies. Addario was never put off by rejection. She improved her work by learning from key people who taught her about the variations in natural light, positioning of camera angles, and patience, the most important quality--to wait for the right moment and not rush. An exhibit of Sebastião Salgado’s photography clarified her devotion to photojournalism and documentary photography. Addario has photographed in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, several countries in Africa, and Libya, and primarily during or at the onset of upheavals. In Libya, along with three male journalists, she was kidnapped and was physically, psychologically, sexually abused,and threatened with death by the Libyan Army. Addario has been in accidents and injured, and when returning from Gaza to Israel endured repeated body scans by the Israeli Army even though she had proof that she was pregnant. And she does not hesitate to write about the challenges of cracking into the predominantly male world of photojournalism.
Lynsey Addario has been the recipient of numerous awards including a MacArthur Fellowship in 2009. As to why she has led this life, her thoughts after seeing Salgado's exhibit answers that, "It was a way to tell a story. It was the marriage of travel and foreign cultures and curiosity and photography. It was photojournalism." Being married and having a baby has not curtailed her love for what she does, but given her a momentary pause to reconsider some assignments.
Lynsey Addario is not the first female war photographer and joins the ranks of: Lee Miller, Margaret Bourke-White, Dorothea Lange; and not the first woman to report from a war front: Nellie Bly, Marguerite Higgins, Liz Trotta, Gloria Emerson, Oriana Fallaci, Marie Colvin. In addition there are today's broadcast reporters: Christiane Amanpour, Lyse Doucet, Arwa Damon, to name three; check the International Women's Media Foundation for others.