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."

About James Nachtwey:

  • Born in Massachusetts, USA, March 14, 1948
  • Began photographing as a newspaper photojournalist for The Albuquerque Journal in New Mexico (1976), and later moved to New York to become a freelance photographer (1980)
  • Some of his biggest influences were photographs of the American Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War
  • Traveled to Ireland to cover the IRA Hunger Strike as his first foreign assignment (1981)
  • Injured due to an insurgent grenade while covering the US invasion of Iraq, but healed in order to later travel to Southeast Asia to cover the Boxing Day tsunami (2001)
  • Has also done work in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Lebanon, West Bank and Gaza, Israel, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, South Africa, Russia, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Romania, Brazil and the United States

Nachtwey's work displayed the darker more depressing sides of current events. Nachtwey utilized darker colors and makes the subjects of his photos rather obvious; he tends to use leading lines and the rule of thirds quite often. His photos all contained very somber tones in order to open the eyes of his audience to the larger predicaments of the world.

  • This photo uses the rule of thirds with the girls off center
  • The light in the background is dimmed through the dust, but is clarified to clearly show the girls in the foreground
  • The portion of empty space on the left leads the viewer's eyes to the helicopter
  • The mood of the picture is frightful; the girls looked to have just been enjoying their time outside but were disturbed by the intrusion of the helicopter
  • I am unsure how I feel about this photo, I enjoy the composition of it, but am not fond of the story it tells


Nachtwey was a powerful photographer through his use of composition skills to document current events. Personally, I do enjoy the composition of his photographs but I am not a fan of the stories they tell just because of the brutality of them. I assure however, that to the photojournalism world his work is greater appreciated.

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