The british newspaper The Guardian released a truly interesting article that gives war photographers the chance to put words on their pictures. Not the words we read in the papers, but their own stories, reactions, fears, consequences of the particular moment they shot.
Here is my picks of the stories of The Shot That Nearly Killed Me:
The situation was very tense – people were drunk and aggressive. I was with two other photographers most of the time, but at this moment I went back to the road alone. I saw three soldiers smoking, playing with their guns, and felt safe – I don’t know why. Then I saw a man with a knife in his mouth, coming out of the bush – he was holding up a hand like a trophy. The soldiers started laughing and firing in the air. I didn’t think about it and began shooting. He walked directly at me. People surrounded us, celebrating. I thought, “Don’t do anything crazy, just act like you’re part of this crazy party.”
I was deep in Soweto when I saw a man being attacked by ANC combatants. The month before, I’d seen a guy beaten to death – my first experience of real violence – and hadn’t shaken the feeling of guilt that I had done nothing to stop it. “No pictures,” someone yelled. I told them I’d stop shooting if they stopped killing him. They didn’t. As the man was set on fire, he began to run. I was framing my next shot when a bare-chested man came into view and swung a machete into his blazing skull. I tried not to smell the burning flesh and shot a few more pictures, but I was losing it and aware that the crowd could turn on me at any time. The victim was moaning in a low, dreadful voice as I left. I got in my car and, once I turned the corner, began to scream. You’re not just a journalist or a human being, you’re a mixture of both, and to try to separate the two is complicated. I’ve often felt guilty about my pictures. I worked in South Africa for years and was shot three times. The fourth and final injury, in Afghanistan in 1999, wasn’t the worst, but I decided enough was enough. I was looking to settle. Nineteen months later, I met my wife.
Port au Prince was falling. It was riotous, with widespread looting. A group of us had gone to the port. The thugs with guns didn’t want us there. We snapped from the waist, trying not to make it obvious. We decided to go over the wall. One thug offered me “protection”. As we jumped the wall, I saw this boy, and was like, “This is what it’s come to.” It was my first digital assignment and I was amazed to be able to look at my shots. I did for a second; when I looked up, everyone had run off. It was just me and the thug. It was like a dog that smells fear. He began pushing and threatening me. Then I was surrounded. One of them hit me. I had a few dollar bills in my trousers, and put my hand there. They began tearing at me, fighting over the bills. I waited 30 seconds, started to walk away, then ran and scaled the fence. On the other side, I tried to breathe.
I began shooting one guy a metre away. He screamed and pulled a shotgun. I saw the barrel, then he shot the man next to me – I had blood on me, brains. I was crying, shaking. I ran to the car horrified; I was a mess. I love Haiti, but every time I pass the port, I carry some of that fear.