João Silva, 44, a South African photographer on contract with The New York Times, stepped on a mine while accompanying American soldiers patrolling an area near the town of Arghandab in southern Afghanistan on October 23rd, 2010. Despite immediate help from medics, both his legs were lost below the knees .
Experienced Freelance War Photographers ( FWPs) have to acknowledge two things :
- They have chosen their own destiny
- Both risk and death walk together .
Similarly, FWPs and soldiers walk together on the first line of battle . One pulls the trigger of the gun, the other is pushing the shutter of the camera .
A “Good War Picture” - taken from behind the corner or a barricade , close up on a fighter - can show the climate of battle , smell of sweat,gun powder or blood , physical and psychological fatigue of the soldier .
FWPs are counting on their lucky stars . They believe that , if the opposing snipers will see their camera, they will not be shot at due to their status as journalist photographers.
Their battlefield experiences are pushing them forward.
They forget about risk, crossing barriers of rationality. The FWPs become emotionally detached from the battle, not taking sides of conflict.
Adrenaline is pushing them to the other side of the frontline to broader the search of potential photographic topics.
Searching for “ Good “ shot is becoming an obsession . Only one thing is important. The valour of the picture- the captured moment + the attached emotion-
The irony is that the most respected pictures by the FWPs are usually not published due to press or military censorship.
Sometimes the stars are not shining even for the best FWP. Hence, he has to pay the biggest price for his passion. His own life. This is how Robert Capa, the greatest FWP died.
Perhaps Joao S. was more lucky. I am sure that he would return to his beloved war photography, but this time the stigma of his personal pain and suffering will linger .