Seventeen war photographers tell the stories behind the images they made in life-threatening situations in a slideshow put together by The Guardian. In the feature, titled “The shot that nearly killed me,” Greg Marinovich describes photographing a man being killed by ANC combatants in South Africa in 1990; João Silva discusses his motivation to continue shooting after his legs were blown off by a landmine in Afghanistan in 2010; Tom Stoddart talks about photographing “sniper alley” in Sarajevo in 1992, a strip of road that he says paralyzed the city with fear; Lynsey Addario recounts some of her thoughts after being kidnapped in Libya earlier this year; and John Stanmeyer tells the story of nearly being struck by a bullet in East Timor in 1999, then photographing a man being killed by the military.
The stories and photographs are gruesome and gut-wrenching. In their accounts some of the photographers deny the stereotype about war shooters being adrenaline junkies. Throughout the stories a theme emerges, summed up by Alvaro Ybarra Zavala in his account of a photograph he made in Congo in 1999: “What’s important is that we show what human beings are capable of. The day I don’t do that with my photography is the day I’ll give up and open a restaurant.”
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