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JAMES NACHTWEY
[b. 1948] American journalist and war photographer
There is a job to be done...to record the truth. I want to wake people up! - 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"
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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
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I used to call myself a war photographer. Now I consider myself as an antiwar photographer. - James Nachtwey - on the question wheather he has changed much in ten years, "American Photo", January/February 2000, page: 16

I want to record history through the destiny of individuals who often belong to the least wealty 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 - Source: http://magnumphotos.com
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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
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I want my pictures to cut through political abstractions... and make a connection on a human level. - 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, Quote taken from his homepage (www.jamesnachtwey.com)

Photojournalists know the horrors of war can only be exposed at close range. Kodak Film. - James Nachtwey - Advertising slogan to photographs by James Nachtwey. [ “World Press Photo 1991”, (catalogue of exhibition), Sdu, Uitgeverij, Koninginnegracht, Amsterdam, p. 127]

There's no real impartiality. A photographer always has some sense of justice and injustice, who's the oppressor and who are the oppressed. - James Nachtwey - Photography - January 1989.

l think one of the reasons we become photographers, is so we don't have to say anything. - James Nachtwey - Photography - January 1989.

We must look at it. We’re required to look at it. We’re required to do what we can about it. If we don’t, who will? - James Nachtwey

My job is not to go to someplace and fall apart. - James Nachtwey - On the question about how he functions in the face of so much violence.

The flow of reality has contours and dimensions much like the flow of a river. The characteristics of the current depend on the channel, whether it is a product of history or geology. Documentary photography has similar properties. The images I create are a confluence of what is in front of me and what is inside of me. They are objective and subjective at the same time, and they must be seen that way by the viewer in order to be convincing. - James Nachtwey

I don’t believe there’s any such thing as objective reality. It’s only reality as we experience it. And whatever emotions I’m feeling, for whatever reason I’m feeling them, get channeled into my work. If I’m feeling outraged, grief, disbelief, frustration, sympathy, that gets channeled through me and into my pictures and hopefully transmitted to the viewer. - James Nachtwey

Do we really need another picture of Paris Hilton or Naomi Campbell? - James Nachtwey

I became a photographer in order to be a war photographer. - James Nachtwey

Every minute I was there, I wanted to flee. I did not want to see this. Would I cut and run, or would I deal with the responsibility of being there with a camera? - James Nachtwey

They had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile, a pile of little arms... And I realized like I was shot with a diamond bullet right through my forehead, and I thought, my God, the genius of that, the will to do that. - James Nachtwey

When I approach people, I do it with respect, with deference; I do it slowly and gently and I think about the way I move, the way I speak and the way I use the camera. I let them know that I respect them and what they’re going through. - James Nachtwey

The greatest statesmen, philosophers, humanitarians… have not been able to put an end to war. Why place that demand on photography? - James Nachtwey

If I can upset people, if I can ruin their day, then I have done my job. - James Nachtwey

Is it possible to put an end to a form of human behavior which has existed throughout history by means of photography? The proportions of that notion seem ridiculously out of balance. Yet, that very idea has motivated me. - James Nachtwey

You are never freer than in that moment when you decide to expose yourself to sniper fire. - James Nachtwey

For me the strength of photography lies in its ability to evoke humanity. If war is an attempt to negate humanity, then photography can be perceived as the opposite of war. - James Nachtwey

I like to work in the same intimate space that the subjects inhabit. I want to give viewers the sense that they’re sharing the same space with a photo’s subject. These pictures would have been impossible to make unless I was accepted by the people I was photographing. - James Nachtwey

I attempt to become as totally responsible to the subject as I possibly can. The act of being an outsider aiming a camera can be a violation of humanity. The only way I can justify my role is to have respect for the other person’s predicament. The extent to which I do that is the extent to which I become accepted by the other, and to that extent I can accept myself. - James Nachtwey

If I cave in, if I fold up because of the emotional obstacles that are in front of me, I’m useless. There is no point in me being there in the first place. And I think if you go to places where people are experiencing these kinds of tragedies with a camera, you have a responsibility. The value of it is to make an appeal to the rest of the world, to create an impetus where change is possible through public opinion. Public opinion is created through awareness. My job is to help create the awareness. - James Nachtwey

In a way, if an individual assumes the risk of placing himself in the middle of a war to communicate to the rest of the world what’s happening, he’s trying to negotiate for peace. Perhaps that’s the reason for those in charge of perpetuating the war do not like to have photographers around. - James Nachtwey

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