A couple of years ago i went to the James Nachtwey War Photographer exhibition in Breda, which was rather impressive. I knew there was also a documentary about his work, but i hadn’t seen that one until someone tipped me on Twitter.
A film about the American photographer James Nachtwey, about his motivation, his fears and his daily routine as a war photographer. If we believe Hollywood pictures, war photographers are all hard-boiled and cynical old troopers. How can they think about ‘exposure time’ in the very moment of dread?
Swiss author, director and producer Christian Frei followed James Nachtwey for two years into the wars in Indonesia, Kosovo, Palestine… Christian Frei used special micro-cameras attached to James Nachtwey’s photo-camera.
We see a famous photographer looking for the decisive moment. We hear every breath of the photographer. For the first time in the history of movies about photographers, this technique allowed an authentic insight into the work of a concerned photo-journalist.
Just like a lot of people i have some mixed feelings about the work of Nachtwey. His photographs are impressive and the things he photographs need to be seen by the world. But i feel rather uncomfortable when i see him so up close, basically shoving the camera right under the nose of grieving or dying people. It borders on taking advantage of the misery of others. Especially when you see the shot of the Stern magazine editors when they talk about the photos.
Anyway, no matter what side you are on (if you even are). This documentary is impressive and needs to be seen. It’s not for the faint of heart and shows some very violent images.