My Thoughts On War Photography: Why It’s Important For Society by Charlie Atkinson

by charlieatkinson on June 19, 2012

1x1.trans My Thoughts On War Photography: Why Its Important For Society by Charlie Atkinson

(Copyright: Robert F. Sargent)

Charlie Atkinson: So I thought I would write a post about war photography and how it ties into street photography, as one of my good mates from work and I have started planning a 1 month embedment to Afghanistan.

Quick Note: To start this post I would like to say that I have never had experience of being in combat, photographing conflicts, or anything of that nature. Some of the images might be a bit graphic so if you “don’t like, don’t look”.

Is It Right To Document It Ourselves Or Leave It To Others?

1x1.trans My Thoughts On War Photography: Why Its Important For Society by Charlie Atkinson

(Copyright: James Nachtwey)

I believe that everyone has a right to know what’s going on in the world, whether they have the ability to make a difference or not. Maybe that’s just the internet generation for me, constantly being informed of the latest and greatest things going on at the any given moment. This leads me to the question whether or not if it is “right” to document these sorts of situations. Now I know this is a very sensitive ground I am about to discuss, as a lot of people feel very passionate about what’s going on in Afghanistan. Therefore as a disclaimer, everything I talk about in this article are just my personal beliefs.

I spoke with a friend from work whether it is actually worth going to a foreign country to document the war as it unfolds and evolves. My friend’s opinion was that we should let the photographers based around the conflict to actually document it. Therefore he felt that foreigners shouldn’t get involved. I agreed with his point, but not entirely.

With anything we document in photography there will always be bias (from the photographer’s viewpoint). This is where I think it is wrong to simply leave it to the few of those living in the country to document what is going on. For example, if an Afghan journalist saw a group of soldiers praying, they might not capture this as it is a part of everyday life for them. However, a foreign journalist might find this highly interesting and the culture may be a major part of the story! I think that without war photographers, people would not understand how horrible and gruesome war is (myself included).

How Does Street Photography Help?

1x1.trans My Thoughts On War Photography: Why Its Important For Society by Charlie Atkinson

(Copyright: Horst Faas / AP)

Street photography is one of the most spontaneous types of photography as you always have to be ready for the next shot, focused, exposed and ready to go. Therefore I feel street photographers have some of the reaction skills necessary to capture “decisive moments” in war photography.

Furthermore, I think a lot of street photography is about composing a shot well in a split-second, while having the eye for capturing the moment. Street photographers are skilled for being aware of their surroundings, which would help them pay attention not to get injured while taking a photograph.

Of course what street photographers do not have is the same amount of determination, experience, and emotional toughness that war photographers possess. Therefore I am not trying to say that all street photographers would make good war photographers, but a street photographer to go into war photography would be easier than let’s say a landscape photographer trying to be a ware photographer.

Why Do I Want To Do It?

1x1.trans My Thoughts On War Photography: Why Its Important For Society by Charlie Atkinson

(Copyright: Paolo Pellegrin / Magnum Photos)

The images that I connect most with that I have seen are almost all from conflicts. I can see and feel the emotion and story behind each image and how each image is part of history. I love the idea of creating images that will help people like myself look back at history, and read stories from the photographer and their subjects. For me it’s not a matter of glamour or adventure. I personally want to create memorable images that touch the lives of others, while informing them about what is going on in the world. I feel that I would like to be part of documenting the change in our world, whether it is changing in a positive or negative way.

I think the main problem with war / documentary photography is the censorship. For example, as a news reader you never really get exposed to the real raw images, the ones that would actually make you decide to do something. Rather, you have to search for the photographers and actual personal projects that are not published in the mainstream media.

What Gear To Take?

At the moment this is the list that I have and plan on basing what to take from this for the 1 month deployment, if you have anything you feel should be on the list please add to it in the comments!


-Boxers x5
-Desert Boots
-Trousers x2
-Hiking Socks x4
-Body Armour
-Knee Pads
-Elbow Pads
-T-Shirt x3


-Canon AE-1 Program x2
-Canon FD 28mm f2.8
-Canon FD 35mm f2.8
-Canon FD 50mm f1.2
-Canon FD 70-200mm f3.5
-Canon FD 35-70mm f3.5
-Leica MP x1
-Summicron 35mm f2
-GoPro Hero 2
-Film (170 rolls of B&W, 30 rolls of colour) this works out at roughly 237 frames a day


-Wet Wipes
-Lens Pen
-Rocket Blower
-Jewellers Screw Driver Set
-Basic First Aid Kit
-Bugs Spray
-Heavy Duty Camera Straps
-Big Bag For Everything
-Bulletproof Boxers
-Canon AE-1 Program Batteries x3
-Hydration System Bag
-Foam Sleeping Roll


1x1.trans My Thoughts On War Photography: Why Its Important For Society by Charlie Atkinson

(Copyright: Eddie Adams)

As mentioned earlier in the article, I have never shot conflicts or experienced conflicts first-hand. Although I am still young and naive, I feel the urge to go out and record moments of history happening around the world. I want to create images that not only touch but inform the lives of those outside of the war, and focus not only on the violence and gore of war- but also the humanity and heart (that you often don’t see in the mainstream news due to censorship).

Do you think that my idea to document conflicts is a noble or naive idea? I’d love to know what everyone thinks about war photography and embedments in general, and any advice would be much appreciated!

  • Rob LaRosa

    It sounds like too much camera equipment to me. Also bring plastic zip-lock bags to keep the elements out. Keep your head down, eyes open and your power dry.

  • Corinne Standish

    I think you answered your own questions: “I personally want to create memorable images that touch the lives of
    others, while informing them about what is going on in the world.” although I don’t think you have to go into the war zone to do this.

    I’ve seen that people do their best work when they are photographing what they love and/or feel passionate about. I do agree that street photography can be good preparation for war photography – they intersect in many ways. But it’s not a justification. If you feel the ‘Call’ to go, you don’t need anybody’s blessing except your own and perhaps God’s…..

  • Jorge Silva

    First question: are you serious?! Like you, I feel a strong connection with photojournalism, and some of my favourite photos were taken by war correspondents, but one thing is the distance through which we see a conflict and another, completly different one, is actually experiencing the situation first-hand and have the stomach to shoot.
    Have you photographed protests that were repressed by the police, close at home? That may be a training point (but still not close). One thing is doing Street Photography and having to explain to someone what you are doing, another is having to dodge a bullet, or being caught by some militia (it happens a lot).
    Pause and take a look at the numbers: how many war journalists were killed during the last years? And, if you really pretend to go ahead with something like that, remenber that, most of the time, these people have locals with them to guide and help. That is not something to ponder about with a romantic perspective!

  • Tobias Weisserth

    Seriously, you need to figure out your personal agenda more than discussing what to take on such a “mission” or why it’s important to document war. I am an officer of the reserve, I did my active duty in uniform and under arms and I wouldn’t dare to plan any Afghanistan exposure even for a single day without some serious training and other assignments in lesser dangerous situations to get accustomed to really dangerous environments like the Afghanistan theater of war. Much more experienced people die in Afghanistan every day.

    You won’t help yourself, photography, news reporting or anybody else if all you are thinking about is what to pack in your bag when you have no idea what to expect.

    You might have held back information the readers do not know about and maybe you already had some sort of military training, de-escalation training, first aid courses (how to stop the bleeding when someone’s leg blows off from an IED explosion etc.) but your blog entry reads more like: Hey, I am going on that great adventure trip, this is what I am packing.

    And then there is the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder which you will probably be very likely to develop when you have NEVER been exposed to even lesser violence and danger and that region will be your first experience. It happens to reasonably high percentage of soldiers and they have had actual training for many situations that they encounter in Afghanistan. You didn’t.

    Very likely you will have loving parents, maybe grown up siblings, a girl friend or any other significant other who I hope will talk sense into you.

    Reporting in Afghanistan is covered by dozens of professional photographers, employed by well known agencies. They got rewarded and noticed for their work and risks taken in numerous awards. These photographers have years of experience. Don’t think that you can pull the same stunt without taking much higher risks yourself and maybe even putting others in danger too at the same time.

  • Jason Zeis

    Interesting article, very well written, but I have a few things…
    Today, I don’t think film would be very practical as a photojournalist. Would take ages to get back to the news outlets, you have to risk missing shots reloading film, etc…

    So I just wanted to see if you could add a digital gear list.

    Digital Gear:

    -2x Canon 1DX Body (Or 1, Would be practical to have a backup)
    -Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS II
    -Canon 17-40 f/4L
    -Canon 50 f/1.2L
    -(Any laptop with a 3G or satellite connection)
    -Solar chargers etc., extra batteries.

    Also please, Charlie, don’t subject yourself to this, it is very dangerous, and impractical for an inexperienced photographer to go out there.
    Listen to what Tobias and others have said, I don’t think for such a young person, to be subjected to this.


  •ári-Jensson/100001965958319 Kári Jensson

    Naive? No, some of worlds most amazing photographs show the horror of war, However what you must never forget is that you will have to run for your life from time to time and journalists and photographers do die as well as anyone else there.

  • Vladimir Krzalic

    I very much respect what you’re trying to do as I had those same thoughts crossed my mind a handful of times. Living in Serbia, I’ve been involved and photographed various types of demonstrations and violent protests that sometimes unfortunately ended up with a lot of injuries to both confronted sides. Few times we’he had casualties as well. Bombing campaign that lasted for some two and a half months also added up to a experience. I am not a war photographer though, but rather have some limited experience in working, taking pictures and generally surviving those moments in one piece in order to live to tell the story.

    It is not glamorous at all. You are going to need a lot of physical strength and stamina. Also, what is most important of it all, you absolutely need to understand what is going on, from both sides in order not to be polarizes in the first place, but also, to be able to predict possible dangers.
    The big agencies have their own fixers and sources that lead photographers relatively safe up to a point where photographers need to shoot in order to make something really striking and moving. This is almost exclusively on the front-lines where you face a real danger of being hurt, shot at etc.
    The other possibility is to work behind the front lines, covering the story from some another point of view.
    Anyhow, i think that the first thing you need to do, as mr. Silva said very wisely, is to try to shoot protests and riots that have much less risk factor included. That way you can learn how to deal in the real world situations, learn to “see” the danger before it strikes or it could be too late.
    Btw, please look for the documentary work of mr. Joao de Silva, a “Hall of Fame” war photographer (currently recovering from loosing both legs in IED explosion in Afganistan), as well as other war phtographers (James Natchway, Greg Marinovich,

    As for the “technical side”, if you’re going to shoot some confrontation that includes use of tear gas (all but Afghanistan clashes have seen more or less of this stuff), don’t forget to take swimming goggles with you. They can literally save your life out there like no other piece of equipment.
    Ditch the elbow and knee pads. Those only add to your weight and decrease mobility.

    Don’t take more than two bodies with two lenses. Me personally would take a leica w. 35mm, Canon with 28 and 70-200 and that would be all.

    Without any intention to sound rough, i’m asking you: Do you know what exactly you’re trying to do? How the real perspective of being in war looks like?

    • Tobias Weisserth

      Hi Vladimir,

      the blog post is a guest post, Eric is just hosting it. I hope.

      Also, Afghanistan has no “front lines”. The insurgents are everywhere. It can be an alleged woman in a burka passing by carrying an explosive device, it can be the Afghanistan police man who suddenly opens fire at his comrades and western allies, it can be the sniper sitting unseen in the cities and villages, picking off westerners through a scope. It can be armed criminals just out for ransom money, picking you off the street. Most likely it can be the IED hiding somewhere on that crowded market or side of the street you are passing by.

      There are dozens of ways to get killed in Afghanistan that are not related to the concept of a front line in any way. The “frontline” is any place in Afghanistan at any time.

      • Eric Kim

        Yes thank you for the clarification Tobias – this post was written by Charlie Atkinson, not myself.

  • Nick

    See, everyone is objecting to your idea – but I will say it in one short sentence.

    “Go for it.”

    All the best!

  • Guest

    Sorry Charlie but thinking you’ll be giving an honest representation of
    any war as an embedded journalist is pretty naive. If you really want to
    show the world what’s going on you need to be independent. Embedded
    journalist are just tools in the war propaganda machinery..

  • I am Bidong

    Hey Charlie,

    Good article and I myself find war photography to be some of the most memorable and iconic. I am always up for a challenge and adventure, but I don’t know if you have seriously considered the possibility of never returning and whether or not that is worth the risk. The risk is real.

    Speaking from a personal experience, I had a former coworker (from Canada) visit Afghanistan in October of 2010. Two days into his trip he was captured by the Taliban and accused of being a spy. No one has heard anything from him in about a year (the last piece of information that came from him was a video the Taliban released of him answering some basic questions).

    So yes, you may be able to get some really moving images; no doubt you will. I just hope that you (and your family) are prepared for the worst case scenarios. Personally as a risk taker, I wouldn’t do it but perhaps that is only because of my personal connection with the situation.


  • Bobster

    Have you spoken to any war photographers who are currently out in the field? Seek advice from someone who is doing it for real. I’m not trying to be patronising or looking to upset anyone, but I really don’t think you have gone the right way about this.

    Posting your kit list? and asking on here of you have missed anything? C’mon, if you don’t know what to pack then you aren’t ready to go.

    I know of a few guys who do this, one is preparing to go back right now, he’s doing 3 mountain runs a day to get his fitness up, his ‘grab bag’ contains tourniquets and a 9mm pistol in case they get bumped. This is very serious stuff, we all like to fantasise about doing this sort of thing, but it takes a lot of knowledge and preparation and contacts.

    Like I say I don’t want to come across like I’m telling you what to do but I read this then sat back and thought about it and just had to comment. I wish you all the luck in the world if you go ahead, just be prepared!

  • Ryan

    This blog is hopeless. My last visit just happened.

  • marino holguin

    Really?… I mean, really?

    What on earth are you thinking? Really? Honest advise: read Tobias Weisserth comment at least a dozen times.

    You are talking about going to one of the most dangerous places on earth right now. Think you should seriously rethink your priorities.

  • Rod Stephens

    This is one of the most bizarre posts I have seen on this blog for some time. Although the primary sentiment appears earnest, I find the juxtaposition of a ‘gear list’ with these iconic war images distasteful. Understanding the serious nature of this endeavor is what is important here – not bug spray, bulletproof boxers, wet wipes and lenses. This entry almost appears comical, although I am sure that is not the intent here.

    Frankly, the use of Eddie Adams picture under the caption ‘What Gear to Take’ is absolutely appalling. Please edit.

    • Eric Kim

      Thank you for the feedback Rod. I took your suggestion and changed the positioning of the Eddie Adams picture.

      • JM

        How about checking all your copyright infringements throughout your site as well?

  • Dominic

    Kudos to your guts. But honestly your blog post sounds like some kid who watched Rambo a bit too often. War is no game. Its cruel, brutal, bloody, deadly and it makes no difference between race, gender and age. You will face some serious suffering. It might be physical but for sure it will be psychological. And it will follow you until your last breath. You’ll have to face it again and again: in your dreams, your subconscious in your fears. Are you ready to see people get killed? Soldiers from WWII, very old man still see the images of their first friend dying in their dreams. Its still haunting them. They also rushed into something out of romantic ideas… You should be aware of that. Are you willing to pay the price? Don’t rush into something you have no idea about.

    If you go best of luck from my side. Be careful ! ! ! And don’t take so much stuff. You take more than me when I went backpacking for three months. Also the camera equipment sounds way too much for me. You have to carry that all.

    Anyway, stay alive and come back in one piece physically AND mentally.
    Dominic, Koh Samui, Thailand

  • RRRoy

    Let me tell you one thing – if you are not a professional journalist working for some agency, the Afghan government won’t give you a visa. Forget documenting war with a tourist visa. You need not listen to me. Just go to the Afghan embassy/consulate of your city and tell them about your mission and see their reaction for yourself.
    Myself and some of my real life friends read this post today morning. We laughed and laughed and laughed.
    Grow up kid….grow up.

  • Andrew So

    A quick correction: The first photograph was not shot by Robert Capa, but by Robert F. Sargent.

  • Enrique

    The following is a link to a NYTimes article about new, young photographers who became photojournalists through covering the Libyan civil war.

  • Kaushal Parikh

    Charlie is not taking the entire list of gear mentioned in his list. He plans to choose from this list of gear which he possesses. It takes one big break to change the course of one’s career and sometimes this break comes with a lot of risk. These risks often sound silly or heroic at first but when someone does an unexpectedly great job he/she is admired for being revolutionary. So while it is great to give Charlie advice it is unwarranted to mock his plans. There are those who just prefer to jump into the deep end, and if you do decide to go through with this plan, then I wish you all the luck Charlie.

    • Rob S

      OMFG!!! If someone told me they wanted to embed with my team to “get their big break” in their career I would save time and shoot them myself. LIVES. You dont risk others LIVES for YOUR big break.

  • tom

    Sounds like fun, but the black and white film part is just nuts. Do you want to get the shot or do you want to dink around with rolls of black and white film?

    • Laplace

      Fun, going to shoot war is fun ?

      Both the author of this article and some readers need to leave the Playstation to rest for a while.

  • Marco

    Are you kidding? Will you have the support of an agency or wire service? What you’re doing is not only naive but borders on stupidity.

    Do you have a fixer? Driver? Translator? All of the aforementioned? Putting your list of things you’re taking sounds like a gear-based enthusiast and not a photographer.

    Sure you have fanboys with the most pedantic understanding of photography but is it really worth going into a zone that’s as serious as a heartattack just to impress this audience?

    Those people aren’t playing; they’re at war.

    The fact Eric would allow you to post this proves that none of you have a clue. Not only but the only reason Magnum has any sort of partnership with this site is so their flagging relevancy can get a reprieve.

  • Michael

    Naive? How about ignorant.

  • Luis

    I think that there are several ways to ‘create memorable images that touch the lives of others, while informing them about what is going on in the world’ like you said. I also think that packing a couple of things and go to a country in war to shot pictures – not being a professional and someone with experience – is something insane to do (if you can actually get a visa for such purpose).

    Why don’t you just go to one of the countries where hundreds of people die every day because they have nothing to eat or because they cannot afford a set of pills that can save their lives?
    Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Mozambique just to mention some…

    • RRRoy

      I don’t think that’s sane either. I don’t think Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan etc will give visa to an individual for that purpose. Even social workers in that region are all working under the aegis of some banner.

      • Luis

        Apply as a volunteer to help people in one of those countries, even if is just for a month. Once there I’m sure you have time to work in a photography project…

        • RRRoy

          “Times have changed drastically in the last 30 years regarding “Westerners” (North Americans, Europeans, Australians, etc.) volunteering in economically-disadvantaged countries. In contrast to 30 years ago, the emphasis now in relief and development efforts in poorer countries is to empower and employ the local people, whenever possible, to address their own issues, build their own capacities, improve their environments themselves and give them incomes. ”
          “It’s much more beneficial and economical to local communities to hire local people to serve food, build houses, educate young people, etc., than to use resources to bring in an outside volunteer to do these tasks. ”

          • Luis

            Right below that:

            “That said, the days of international volunteers are NOT numbered: there will always be a need for international volunteers, not just paid consultants or international staff, either to fill gaps in knowledge and service in a local situation, because a more neutral observer/contributor is required, or because a priority in a particular situation is inter-cultural understanding.”

            I have a couple of friends that always wanted to do volunteer and there were able to do so. Of course you have to pay everything by yourself…

            But anyways, I was just trying to give another and more viable solution for this crazy idea of going to do war photography. That’s it.

  • Elias Rodriguez

    Charlie Atkinson,
    I am not going to discourage you to do this, however I don’t disagree with what many people here have said in various ways. If you think about it, when you are in some one else’s country, especially one that is war torn and has questionable forces doing questionable things, a foreign person with a camera taking pictures is a sore thumb, and could, if not more than likely will get you abducted, killed, or if your lucky severely beaten and your equipment taken from you. There is no government force doing things horrible to its people that will for one second allow a photograph to escape to the rest of the world without an effort to apprehend the evidence and keep it under wraps. In other words, more than likely the Afghanistan government will more than likely be a serious roadblock.

    My advise if you have made up your mind would be to get a hold of one of these war journalists through what ever channels you have available, and see if they can connect you with someone working in that region, and see if there is a way you can start a conversation with this person to find out what you need to do to eventually work your way into this position. The truth is although street photography and war journalism have much in common, and the street photography experience may serve you well in a war situation, the fact remains, war journalism is something you have to earn. None of these famous journalists walked into a conflict zone and started taking pictures, not one single one of them. These people worked and earned their position and title, much the same way if you are serious about doing this style of journalism, you will have to earn yours.

  • JJ

    The photograph showing a soldier in front of the helicopter copyright is wrong, it should be Paolo Pellegrin.

  • JM

    Please tell me that I just read a joke (and a bad one at that)!

    I have lost 2 friends in the last 2 years (one in the revolution in Tunisia and another recently in Syria) and they were both experienced photojournalists yet you really think that preparing your suitcase is the only thing you need to take care of before going out to a conflict zone? Seriously, please do yourself (and your loved ones not to mention the people you would be traveling with and working with) a favour and stay where you are.

    Reading such childish drivel really angers me. This has got to be the most appaling piece I have read yet here…

  • Lainer

    I wonder if James Nachtwey knows you’re using his photo. Maybe I should let him know.

    • E

      This blog is using the term “fair use” for all it’s worth and beyond.. there’s so much copyright violation going on here I don’t know where to start…

  • Mario

    Don’t forget the “Leica Rifle” (Google) and your Flash to shoot your subjects right into the face. OMG, poor guy.

  • Michael Comeau

    Question — have you ever gone to the roughest area of your own city to take pictures of what’s going on there?

  • Malikmata

    What do you intend to do if you survive this trip, write “101 things to remember when shooting war photography” on the blog or give a workshop on how to shoot in a war zone? Seriously!!

  • George
  • Diong

    Late April 1st post?

  • Steven Richmond

    Recommend reading Blood and Champagne, the biography of Robert Capa and Unreasonable Behaviour by Don McCullin. Both two very different but amazing war photographers.

  • John McDermott

    The very first thing you need to do is get acquainted with the concept of copyright. Do the authors of the various images you’ve used here, and their agencies, know that you are using them? Have they given you their permission?

    Then you need to get some more information about the reality of this kind of work and this kind of place. I would never discourage anyone from pursuing a dream, but this one could get you killed, even if you were fully prepared and knowledgeable about the difficulties and the risk involved, something that you are clearly not. Are you ready to die or spend the rest of your life disabled in order to take pictures of the conflict in Afghanistan? Maybe you should talk to some soldiers who have served there first, or some photographers who have worked there, or some friends of photographers who have been killed in such places. No picture is worth risking injury, let alone your life.

  • Steven Richmond

    Recommend reading Blood and Champagne, a biography of Robert Capa, and Unreasonable Behaviour by Don McCullin. Both of these photographers are very different, but there’s a lot to learn if war photography is something that interests you.

  • David Jack Jones

    Well I hope his Photography
    is better than his writing. It is evident from his blog that he does not
    understand his own concept, his approach seems juvenile at best and he
    has clearly conducted little to no research. Having said that, who knows, didn’t Larry
    Burrows walk straight into the Vietnam conflict in the late 60′s to become one of the
    most renowned, brave…- and admittedly dead -… photographers of all
    time? I agree with the sentiments of those before me but who are we to stand in the way?

    • RRRoy

      I think you are missing the point. Yes, you are right, we have no business to stand in his way. But do you really believe so many people are repeatedly coming to this blog, spending time to post comments just to prevent one Charlie Atkinson from going to Afghanistan ? NO.
      There is a bigger issue involved . The issue of spreading dangerous and provocative ideas. You have cited an example of a photographer from the 60′s. The world was different then. There was no internet. Did that photographer advertise his mission ? Atkinson should have also undertaken his mission surreptitiously.
      This is an aggressively advertised blog. If you google for ‘street photography’ it shows up in 4th-5th position of page 1. Do you think it is unjustified for people who have kids, younger siblings to get annoyed.
      This war photography business is the latest addition. Previously it was about gear. Statements like this were made -
      If you don’t shoot with a leica people won’t take you seriously
      Every other girl in Korea has a Louis Vuitton bag
      Remember the 2011 London riots….kids ransacking shops in one after another locality

  • j

    The fact this isn’t a joke is to say the least worrying. At first i enjoyed this blog some great photographers were featured but… its just getting to be a laughable joke. From Erick begging for a flight to charge people ridiculous amounts of money to do some class. Now this…. LOL ”To start this post I would like to say that I have never had experience
    of being in combat, photographing conflicts” anything of that nature”

  • Jobin

    These posts just get worse and worse.

  • Darren Abate

    “What to take?” Do you think you’re going camping?

    How often does one get to say that he was present to watch someone make a really huge mistake? If you go through with it, I’m pretty sure I will be able to say so, as will we all.

    Go camp out in the projects for a couple months and document the situations there, first. You know… Start “small”…

    This was my first visit to your blog as well as my last. Pull your head out, man.

    • Tobias Weisserth

      I laughed so hard when I read your first sentence. My thoughts exactly!

  • Olivier Sylvestre

    Bring a couple more boxers… hygiene… That and some soap. You’re going to Afghanistan right? You’re out for a month and I’m pretty sure you won’t be able to clean your cloths for more than a week if you don’t stay in the more urban places.

  • Martin Hanna

    Charlie would be better off going to a location where there are social stories rather than a war zone. If he needs to go near a war zone, then perhaps somewhere where it is quieter now, with less obvious dangers. I suggest he checks out Panos Pictures for ideas (

  • LF

    “I think the main problem with war / documentary photography is the censorship. For example, as a news reader you never really get exposed to the real raw images, the ones that would actually make you decide to do something. Rather, you have to search for the photographers and actual personal projects that are not published in the mainstream media.”

    You’re obviously not looking hard enough, or we have different concepts of mainstream media. And I don’t know which personal projects you’re referring to since all the inspiring photos you posted were made by working photographers with contracts and were published by prominent media outlets.

    Please do not confuse the hobby of street photography with the job of a photojournalist/war photographer. I googled your name. I didn’t find anything. Do you have a portfolio? Any journalism experience? Have you ever worked for a publication? Have you ever been in any kind of stressful shooting situation? Do you have all the right contacts? Do you know what a fixer is? The appropriate insurance? Are you in the best shape of your life? Do you have a will? Have you ever seen anyone die in front of you?

    Yes, street photography is a form of documentary photography and is therefore similar to war photography, but every good photojournalist/war photographer is a master at the skills you associated with street photography and on top of that they do it for a living everyday, all day long, consistently, on deadline, and in any circumstances thrown at them including when those around them don’t want their picture taken.

    You are not there yet, but maybe one day.

  • LF

    “I think the main problem with war / documentary photography is the censorship. For example, as a news reader you never really get exposed to the real raw images, the ones that would actually make you decide to do something. Rather, you have to search for the photographers and actual personal projects that are not published in the mainstream media.”
    You’re obviously not looking hard enough, or we have different concepts of mainstream media. And I don’t know which personal projects you’re referring to since all the inspiring photos you posted were made by working photographers with contracts and were published by prominent media outlets.
    Also, please do not confuse the hobby of street photography with the job of a photojournalist/war photographer. I googled your name. I didn’t find anything. Do you have a portfolio? Any journalism experience? Have you ever worked for a publication? Have you ever been in any kind of stressful shooting situation? Do you have all the right contacts? Do you know what a fixer is? The appropriate insurance? Are you in the best shape of your life? Do you have a will? Have you ever seen anyone die in front of you?
    Yes, street photography is a form of documentary photography and is therefore similar to war photography, but every good photojournalist/war photographer is a master at the skills you associated with street photography and on top of that they do it for a living everyday, all day long, consistently, on deadline, and in any circumstances thrown at them including when those around them don’t want their picture taken.
    You are not there yet, but maybe one day.

  • SE

    Yeeeheeeyyy we’re going to camping!!!
    I’m a BIG beginner, like i only post my photos on facebook and some art sites, but my thought about this is not like what you thought about.
    I’m sorry i heard you’re coming to my country to do workshop but now it’s clear i’m not going :(

    If you ask me what to bring? Well, any one camera will do if you know what you are doing.

  • Jef

    haha Your REally Funny Man.. You dont know what you are talking about.. HAHA,, Do you think that A bullet proof boxers will save your “LIFE”?

  • cee4star

    Think I am more disturbed that he’s planning on taking 3 sets of clothes for a month.

  • Phillip

    I agree with everybody here that you are being naive. Tru to go south first, try to shoot people in Brazil, Colombia or Even Istanbul. See if its easy as L.A or NY. I bet you would get punched in the face in the streets of Rio. Besides that, you are taking too much gear. Are you going to hang out with other photographers to show off your 80 lenses?

  • Scott Alexander

    Young and naive? More like near death and stupid if this ‘project’ actually comes into fruition. As compelling as war photography is, and I say that simply being a fan of several conflict photographers bodies of work, what qualifies you in the slightest? I shot photos of the riot last year in Vancouver, and while I am not comparing that to war in any such way, If you’ve never even experienced small homemade bombs, flying glass bottles, tear gas, exploding cars, fire, and police shields/batons, what makes you think war will be a walk in the park?

    I’d laugh if I wasn’t so concerned for basic human life and the fact you’d probably die.

  • PhotoJourno

    Forget Afghanistan, I wont advise you to even visit Pakistan. A westerner with a camera in Pakistan’s volatile regions is an open invitation to kidnapping for ransom and beheading and so forth. Take other people’s comments seriously and set your priorities straight. First shoot some low intensity conflicts or riots and then think about something this big.

    P.S: Don’t forget to right your will

  • E

    Just a little side note to the fact that you don’t seem to have clue about the situation you will be subjecting yourself to.. reconsider going into a high stress situation like this without the benefit of digital and AF. You seem to be living in this nostalgic dream of analouge photography and war time romanticism. I have nothing against film (I use it myself), but if you’re going to document a war with camera in hand your focus should be: to document what is going on so the rest of us can see it. I’m not saying anyone with the right camera can do it, but make sure you have the equipment needed to get the job done. You seem to be more concerned with the idea of iconic images and perhaps a creative vision/personal preference towards film.

  • JD

    How to get killed, or get others killed, 101

    Charlie, for the love of all that is holy, stay home. What folks like yourself almost ALWAYS seem to miss is the chance that your misadventures will result in the death/injury of others. If you are willing to risk this, without a damn good reason for being there beyond ‘experiencing things for yourself’, then I suggest you check your head.

    Every single day here in Syria, everyday people put their lives on the line for me. Many Syrians have been lost protecting or evacuating journalists. I could not stomach the idea of being here with no clear understanding that my work was being supported and distributed by a credible media outlet (or numerous ones in my case).

    If you want to get yourself killed, while smoking Lucky Strikes and loading Tri-x into your Leica, then go for it. Do not involve others, who may mistake you for a real journalist, in your mission. Please.

  • marco

    And the funniest thing here is that this guy doesn’t have the balls to respond.

    Eric doesn’t even have the balls to respond. He’s got the balls to pop in someone’s face with a flash but not to explain why he let this naive kid post about wanting to do conflict work.

    Guys you just proved neither of you know crap about what you talk/write about.

    • E

      The only sensible response to all the comments for this post would be: “Oops, did I say that out loud?.. Sorry guys, I hadn’t thought this trough.”

  • AGS

    what a piece of crap….don’t bother with the helmet as head protection. Nothing to be damaged inside:))

  • Aaron Green

    Kind of a drastic measure just to regain some of the “street cred” you pissed down the toilet last year during the Digital Rev competition, eh Charlie? Because, honestly, that’s what this is about, isn’t it? It’s just an opportunity for you to prove to everyone that you’re The Real Deal, right bro? And what better way to do that then pop in to Afghanistan to see what’s up and take some Meaningful Pix . . . should be OFF THE CHAIN, BRO.

    So not surprised this appeared on Kim’s blog. It’s precisely the sort of tone-deaf WTF gibberish this site is increasingly known for. Really sad state of affairs street photography is in these days when people like Eric Kim are its shining stars . . .

    • JJ

      Now you made me google that! Not sure if say thanks or blame you for make me watch it. :)

  • Seezee

    Forget the 5 pairs of boxers: you just need 2 pairs of these (3 if you’re paranoid): Also, bring a water purification system. See this:

  • Yohaan

    Charlie, Have you ever been to the Middle East or Asia ? Ever been to places where people do not speak English? Have you ever realised that people in the places that you plan on ‘visiting’ look at foreigners very differently, often look at westerners in bad light, especially when one is trying to take a photograph of a conflict/situation that is or has become a way of life for them ? Most would look at it as a form of mockery, and that you are trying to achieve fame through their suffering.

    The people that document/have documented war zones and conflicts do so because they feel the need to share what goes on outside our cubicles, fast food chains and waterparks, to understand the human condition and to reflect on that and at most times to make people realise that war is a gruesome machine, for all who are involved and affected by it, never once have they felt the need to share the contents of their bag … I live in the Middle East and life is very very different here.

    • Charlie Atkinson

      Hi Yohaan,

      To answer your question I was born and raised in Bahrain in Awali Hospital then moved to Saudi Arabia living there for 5 years. I travel to and from the Middle East very regularly (almost all passport stamps are in arabic).

      I would never, and have never said that I want to document suffering to achieve fame, I like the other photographers you mention want to document the human condition outside the western world. I have a strong personal attachment to the Middle East and find the current situation out there very interesting.

      I completely agree with you that the way of everyday life is in fact very different from the one that most people lead in the “western world”. I will be posting a follow up article to everyones comments to hopefully clear up any confusion.

      If you would like to contact me personally if you have any questions about what I plan on doing then please send me an email to

      • Yohaan K

        I humbly apologize for my assumptions Charlie. I wish you all the best and I do hope you stay safe. If you ever find yourself in Dubai give me a shout at or through
        Best Regards

        • Charlie Atkinson

          Hey, not to worry, My Dad / Uncle both have a place out there so I should be stopping by in a couple of weeks hopefully. I’ll make sure I drop you a line!

  • Yohaan

    And personally, the best thing to have for putting yourself into a situation like this is not your leica mp or your 35mm summicron, but your ability to interact with people and break through cultural borders and stereotypes. Your ability to touch and connect with people on a level that has no definition. These are the tools that will enable you more than any on an encounter like such. Imagine trying to make sense of what you are doing to a person whose way of life and very existence is threatened by forces he cannot control, frustrated and driven to the point of reckless violence. In what way would any of the things in your bag help you ? The ability to connect and communicate with people over cultural, social and economic borders does not come overnight. Put yourself in situations where you would have to deal with people of varied demographics at home first so you get a better perspective.

    We have all seen Salvador but we live in different times now.

  • AdamG

    Charlie, like you I’ve never photographed in a war-zone but have a lot of friends who have spent many months in Afghanistan, Iraq and other conflict zones around the world. Only a select few get to see frontline action (those who have the experience and respect from the armed forces) and quite often they are former serving soldiers. From what I’ve been told by a friend who served in the Army for 15 years and now carries out two month embeds for a national newspaper you would, as a non-Afghan, be incredibly stupid to walk around Afghanistan without an army escort.

    It might be worth you trying to speak to Phil Coburn from The Sunday Mirror in the UK. He suffered severe leg injuries in 2010 when the armoured carrier he was travelling triggered an IED. He was embedded with the most advanced army in the world and the attack cost the life of his colleague Rupert Hamer. Your unbelievable naivety suggests that most armed forces would not allow you to join them on patrols.

    Your reasoning for wanting to cover conflict is nobel but it can be equally worthwhile photographing injustice closer to home. Your desire to photograph war is based upon the perceived kudos associated with it I feel – war photography wins awards after all. Trying to cover your true desire with a humanitarian overtone will be seen through very quickly.

    I’d never heard of this blog before and I hope this isn’t a true reflection (and sense of self worth and ability) on the new wave of street photographers.

    • Rob S

      Adam – absolutely right. Had he showed up and tried to embed with my team I would have shot the PA idiot and then him. No way I would risk the lives of my team for someone being a war tourist. I had embeds three times – two military and one civilian. I sent away one of the military people for being stupid. I connected the civilian with my best and closest sources.

  • Tobias Weisserth

    Some more background information about how Afghanistan does not have the concept of ‘front lines’ and why it’s one of the most dangerous places in the world:

    At least 26 people died, some civilians included.

  • James Vellacott

    I’ve worked for a national newspaper in various conflict zones. I’ve met people like you on these assignments and they are generally considered a nuisance by the media, ngo’s and troops working there. Like many of my accredited colleagues, I have been present many tragic scenarios in the course of my work. I was asked to cover these conflicts as part of my work and not for my personal portfolio or an adventure to talk about down the pub. To make light of such a scenario and featuring a comedy kit list is not only bad taste but gives the real newsgatherers- who risk their lives for these images- a terrible name. Do yourself and us a favour and stay at home and stick to your street photography.

    • AC

      Wow! I know many people will consider this sacrilege but why do so many war photographer’s, PJ’s (not all granted) have such “god-complexes” such a sense of self-importance – “I’m putting my life on the line to show the world injustice” to be “witness”, are so angry: “you’re not up to it” , back off “my turf” etcThat also gives his kind of photography a “terrible name”.
      Everyone has to start somewhere and most all are naive to the point of stupidity when they do (I’m sure 99% of you were so). His list is crazy granted, but all you “seasoned” “accredited” photographers why not just tell him – in your “expert” opinion- what you would take. Why not add your own what to know/learn before your go: First Aid, battle courses, taken-hostage courses, custom, culture, etc.

      For my own tip:
      Always be respectful of the people whose lives you are invading with your camera and never, ever put them in danger by your presence, behavior, actions etc. Their lives are already about surviving the next few hours or days they don’t need you to up the ante for them so you can get that award winning shot – and especially when you can always leave ( they don’t have that luxury). Just see how many fixers, translators, drivers, have been killed (tortured, imprisoned) on assignment to foreign journalists – it far outnumbers the foreign journalists who use them, and they rarely even get a by-line for it.
      KILLED: CPJ Numbers: 88% Local – 12% Foreign.
      BTW: CPJ has some great info and courses for both seasoned and beginner PJ’s.

  • raddad

    Do it , Man… But don`t try to be a hero… Just remember: All people are created to be “human beings” , separate the political and religious hype from reality and you will be Okay…

  • Raddad

    Do it, man.. against all cold facts… But be aware that everybody takes you as a lunatic. You have a chance to make some meaningful work, if you are as you are, a youth wanting to face the reality.
    Your strenghs may be your humanity, your understanding that all people are created equal. Wipe off all political and religious umbo jumbo jargon, and you might meet real people. To say the truth, I would start somewhere else with an easier spot, like Africa/Morocco/Egypt where the natives would not like to shoot at a foreigner right away…

  • Keagan Kage Oka

    I don’t see anything naive about having a desire to photograph the war. After watching Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” I had the idea to join the armed forces and eventually become a war/military photographer as well. My only recommendation (which several others have mentioned already) is try to go through some basic training somewhere. It would probably severe you well whenever you find yourself in an dangerous situation.
    If this is something that you really see yourself doing that you should definitively pursue it one hundred percent. I think that a war photographer with a street photography background would do well especially if he’s seasoned in interacting with his subjects and making them feel comfortable when he’s around with a camera.

    • Rob S

      Actually I think most of the “basic training” is counter productive. It gives people a sense of thinking they “know” what to do. All it does is make you dumb enough to get into a situation you cant get out of. Experience teaches you not to get into the situation in the first place. Better to go knowing you are dumb than thinking you are not.

  • mark Tomalty


    I think you have to re-evaluate your position on ‘fair use’ as it pertains to using images from
    other photographers.
    This blog is basically really nothing more than a device to drive people to your paid workshops and, as such, is a commercial endeavor.
    You are using others photographers work to drive your workshop business.

  • AC

    READ THESE for safety training

    Is a good start for the realities on the ground.
    You could also take a few lessons in the language, culture, customs, history, politics of where you are going.

  • Misty Beethoven

    Taking all Spongebob boxers or the Marvel superhero set? Just make sure you bring new ones because nothing is more gauche than to be in underwear with holes when they prep you at the morgue.

  • John Perry

    Um, funny. Especially the part about the hardware. Don’t forget your Speed Graphic and lots of film holders. And Condoms, you need condoms…..

  • PTSD Photographer

    Quote ” For me it’s not a matter of glamour or adventure. I personally want to create memorable images that touch the lives of others” How will death touch people’s lives… Especially your life… Why not man up and get that real portfolio instead of sharing lol cats andtalkig rubbish…. In the end you will get back with more health issues like you have never felt before…. A chemical straight jacket with your brain fucked up… Then wake up everyday for the rest of your life feeling sick….. The world is a fucked up place.

  • Photo ref

    ლ(ಠ益ಠლ Stop stealing other photographers photographs you grub. Get permission.

  • Gary Gumanow

    If you want to find out what it’s like to be a war photographer, why don’t you contact Peter Turnley? He’s had over 40 covers on Time Magazine and has been in the middle of a lot of conflicts. He could probably tell you how to get your ass shot off. He’s very responsive to those that have serious questions. You can find him on facebook. He even gives real photography workshops.

    • Kim G. Brown

      But Charlie has no serious questions, and yes, Peter will laugh at this post of Charlie’s…

  • Gary Gumanow
  • Anon

    Why is this poor excuse of an ‘article’ even still up (for the buzz maybe?) and why have neither of the two protagnonists even deemed it necessary to respond? Apart from obvious shame and slight humiliation of the realisation that this ‘article’ is just utter rubbish…

    This blog was already overly dramatic as it is but now with this silly and way over the top pseudo suicide note it’s just reached a new all time low…

    • ab

      People keep coming back to see the comments = the blog keeps on making money from ads.. all garnished with a light sprinkle of copyright infringement.

  • Rob S

    First – dont go. It might seem like a good idea but it isnt. You can not unsee what you might see. You cannot unfeel what you will feel. I have been in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places because it is my profession, not because I wanted to be there.

    Assuming you are determined to go, you need to rethink using film. The max 1/1000 of a second shutter speed is just not going to do it. Im guessing it shoots about 2 FPS – way too slow. Also going to assume and ISO 800 max meaning you will be limited in low light. Not good. You are going to experience a level of dust that is hard to describe. It will EAT film. Do you really think you are going to change film as quickly with gloves on while someone is trying to kill you? Beg, borrow or steel a DSLR and some 32GB memory cards. You are choosing to go somewhere where your life is at risk, dont miss the shot AND die.

    Go digital and get a Polaroid Pogo instant printer. I got my best shots not by taking pictures, but by giving them. And I made friends. You will need friends. Friends tell you not to go down bad streets. Friends tell you when its time to leave. With film you cant even show them a preview. Oh, and the last people who “took” analog pictures – the Soviets. heck, some might have carried AE-1s. You dont want to be like them.

    Ditch the 70-200 and get one of the Tamron 18-270s. The 70-200 is too big, too heavy, too intimidating. This is not a fashion shoot. You want the range of the 18-270 because changing lenses will mean missing a shot. If you get permission to shoot someone, you need to be able to shoot, not change lenses (or film).

    Forget the first aid kit. Beg or borrow a current Army IFAK. Send me a note and I will lend you one if you cant get one otherwise. Dont wast space or weight on what a first aid kit will fix. IFAKs have what you need to save your life – tourniquets and real bandages that will stop you from bleeding out. Ditch the wet wipes and bug spray. Wet wipes will become dry wipes in a day. The only bugs I worried about were spiders and they laugh at the spray.

    Get some education on Islam and the Koran. Are you going to be there during Ramadan, Eid or Assura? You had better know if you are. Ramadan is both a challenge and an opportunity but you have to know when you are in the opportunity zone. BTW – summer Ramadan is rarely an opportunity. Learn some basic Dari (Kabul and the north) and/or Pashtu (south). Some basic Russian would not hurt either. When I hit the limit of my Dari, I switched to Russian.

    Look, I know it seems like “just a month” but you have no idea what you are getting into. Decades of training and experience is what gave me the little inner voice that said “Time to go” or “not a good place to be” or “duck!” Do you know how to “read” a street? Do you know the difference between an angry mob and a wedding procession? Afghans are VERY hard to read. They will smile while slitting your throat. I lost count of how many times my interpreter saved my life. The lake side hotel that just got attacked last week, been there. But I knew when to go and when not to. On the way there I passed a UNHCR camp. Awesome photo opportunities in there. I so wanted to go. But my Afghan Army counterpart – who was a member of the Mujahideen (against the Soviets) and later the Northern Alliance (against the Taliban) – told me we would survive less than 5 minutes in there before we were a YouTube video beheading. Me for being me and him for being with me. As well as extensive training and previous deployments, I had full access to the entire US/NAtO intelligence system. Even better, I had a close contact in the Afghan NDS, another in the Afghan Police and personal relationships with over 20 Afghan Battalion, Brigade and Corps commanders. And if everything when to hell, I had a team of 10 armed to the tooth and the full might of the US military a call away. You cant buy your way out of an ambush.

    • Rob S

      oh, I forgot to mention how many times I didnt go someplace because one of my counterparts told me it was mined – because he put them in. One was on the Soviet side, the other on “our” side. The mines were over 20 years old. VERY unstable.

    • Charlie Atkinson

      Hi Rob I really appreciate your comment, can you drop me a line talk a bit more?

      • Anon

        Oh there you are…

      • Rob S

        you have mail

  • John Louis Lassen Perry

    O.K., I commented before, and was a bit flippant, so let me be a little more serious this time. To answer the question that Charlie actually posed, your idea to document conflicts is a good one, if not noble exactly, but the question is, as a few folks have asked, what are you hoping to say? We all need to know about war, and certainly since Mathew Brady and before, photography of war is something that excites people, makes careers, and seems to catch the imagination of people. But do we actually have enough, or even too much, war photography? I think maybe we do. War photography seems to appeal to many people at least partly because it is a drama which records well visually, and which is, (people seem to think) something that it is easy to take dramatic photographs of. Almost everyone sees lots of war photography, both historic and current. Some is great, some is good, some is more ordinary, but how much of it has really impacted public opinion or altered government policy? Photography probably helped to end the Vietnam War, but was that just a fluke? Not that people should not shoot war, but by documenting it, what kind of impact are we, as photographers or photojournalists, actually having? Now Charlie, if you are prepared to take on the dangers involved in war photography, the physical difficulty, remote locations, dealing with unfriendly government officials who don’t speak your language, the possibility of disease and the discomfort and cost of traveling to a place where things are difficult (where, as one commentator said, “questionable forces are doing questionable things”), then I have a challenge for you. I think you should think about the Nachtwey photo you posted above. It is not actually a photo of conflict. It’s a photo of the effect conflicts have on people. You know, one of the things that shows the immense talent of Jim Nachtwey, is his ability to make intense, moving, impactful photos like that one; a photo that shows a survivor, someone who has suffered and can go on. The thing that reaches out is not his wounds, but that they have healed. That photo says something about the horror of war and conflict, but it also says something about the human spirit, the will to survive. It contains no gun, no machete, no panga. I personally would like to see more pictures of how it is that people survive and rebuild their lives. Surely that could be every bit as visually interesting as war, and maybe we all need to know more about that phase of conflict. There are many people in government and NGOs throughout the world helping to build a better world after conflict. Obviously Jim Nachtwey has the talent to make a compelling image without a tank or gun in the frame, as do a few other photographers. They can shoot such work, get it published, and show it to the world. The have that much talent. Do you? Show us something better than war. I dare you.

  • Steve

    Dress like a soldier – get targeted like a soldier

  • JM

    I just hope that you don’t make the news in the months to come about how the S hit the fan for you and that you need to be rescued (or worse). And what I especially don’t want is for anyone to assimilate you with us, you know real working photojournalists.

    Our job is hard enough as is without some daft romance craving 19 year old pretending to play war photographer all the while having absolutely no idea about how this is a real job and what it implies and requires. Like those stupid bloggers ‘visiting’ Libya while I was there. All they wanted was to “see a revolution, like in Tunisia … not comme here to cover a war”. They had no insurrance, no specific training and didn’t even speak arabic. Well one got shot in the neck … I’m actually amazed that they all made it out alive.

    This is all just plain stupid, there are simply no other words.

  • Tobias Weisserth

    One more interesting article on the subject matter on Lens:

  • kedar

    T^his is really childish please stick to street where you do say something interesting every now and then

  • A Mate

    Sort your head out Charlie before you don’t have one.

    You shit yourself if you walk down the wrong road in Camden let alone a battlefield!

    Well atleast you will have the wet wipes to wipe you arse with.

  • Scott Dalzell

    I’m late to the dance on this one and I can see many, many negative comments. In your article you speak of never photographing in a conflict or anything of that nature. I take that as you never have been in a situation photographically where death was involved. I won’t lecture you on how naive your article sounds. I think many people have already taken care of that. I think your motives are justified. I think your innocence could get you killed.
    But I don’t want to talk to you about that. I’m bringing 20 years worth of photojournalist experience to the table. I worked for a 40,000 daily for most of that time. It wasn’t dangerous work. No war shooting involved. However, I have seen more death that most people will ever see in their lifetime. From accidents, shootings, and fires, I’ve witnessed the absolute armpit of humanity.
    Why am I sharing all this with you? Well you talk about why you want to do this and have a laundry list of things to bring with you. But you have NO idea of the emotional toll that this will take on you. You may say that you can handle it, but you won’t know until you photography your first corpse. You also have no idea what the overall collective impact will have on you. It will have an impact. Maybe you will be able to handle it, maybe you won’t.
    After 20 years, I couldn’t handle it anymore. I was never taught how to process death in photography school, so I didn’t. Well, death piles up in one’s soul and eventually it will come spilling out. It happened to me after photographing seven kids that were killed in a bus crash. They were my 21st fatalities in a three week period. I got no breaks from the death. I didn’t get to take time off to heal my mind. It almost killed me.
    So, while you have these grandiose ideas about photographing in a war zone, how mentally prepared are you? And no matter how much you are prepared, you won’t be prepared enough. It’s ultimately your decision on what you want to do in life. I admire your reasoning. I was once young and naive too. I just hope you don’t die because you weren’t prepared. And if you live, be prepared to live haunted. Those pictures you shoot will always be imbedded in your soul.
    Best of luck.

  • Matt Jones

    ok so what now, did he do it, is he dead, where are the photographs?

  • Pingback: Compare and Contrast of War Photography Articles « Through Bloodied Lenses

  • Kim G. Brown

    I know I’m late to this discussion, but it’s just too juicy to let it pass by in silence.Lets begin with the “1 month embedment”… excuse me, embedded with whom, what unit, where, and most importantly, how? Sounds a little too much like someone going away to camp, the naiveté is painful.

    I’ll just pop over to Afghanistan and shoot a few war pictures, I’ve shot street for years, same thing. I searched (admittedly with little expectation) for some of your war shots on the web, seem to be hard to find..

    I’ll assume you had more pressing pictures to shoot around your neighbourhood and couldn’t make time to pop over to Afghanistan, so i won’t bother to look again.

    Your “Gear to Take” recommendations are a particular joy to read, I’ve never seen a list quite like that, or seen anyone in country actually traveling with that, excuse me, “load” of, well you get the idea.

    Judging from your list, you’re going light on the boxers, I’d say you were thinking a little low.
    Body armour, I’ll assume you were going to look at the bullet-resistant variety. If we take a look at your choice of camera, a Canon AE-1 Program, hmm… It appears that you were intending to look for something in your hotels lobby to shoot because you certainly weren’t going to shoot any action with that thing were you?

    I think this post is pretty much moot as I doubt you went on your “embedment” any way.

    Thanks for writing such an amusing how-to Charlie, I’m sure your reasoning to change your mind was influenced by your friends opinion “that we should let the photographers based around the conflict to actually document it. Therefore he felt that foreigners shouldn’t get involved”, much easier to justify backing out.

    Now, if I’m entirely wrong and you did go on your “embedment” I’d sure love to see some of your shots, as I haven’t been able to find them myself, can you ask Eric to post a link to them?

    Sorry Charlie, yours s a post that should never have been written, let alone post. Stick to shooting street photography, where your biggest danger is tripping over that load of equipment of yours.

    Hopefully no one actually took anything you wrote seriously.


  • Pingback: Canon AE-1 Program (The Simplest Just Work Camera) | Budi Cysco

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