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James Nachtwey

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He shoots with a Canon 1D-series camera. I don't know which exactly. I have seen a short video of him working. He uses zooms, perhaps 24-70L and 70-200L or something similar.

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I'd like to recommend this documentary by Christian Frei: War Photographer. Next to being an impressive movie to watch, it contains lots of footage of Nachtwey shooting. Some of the footage comes from a mini camera attached to one of Nachtwey's Canons, so you can compare the scene to the photos that were finally taken and edited. For me this is one of the most impressive documentaries about photography.

 

BTW: Carsten is right. Nachtwey has been shooting with Canon for years. Film until a few years ago, now digital. He mostly carries two bodies, one with a wideangle zoom, the other one with some sort of moderate tele. Plus he always works with a handheld meter to measure the incident light ...

 

Best regards,

Norbert

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I second "War Photographer." I saw it at the Art Institute in Chicago and then purchased the DVD. Very powerful and inspiring. It really makes you question what you're doing with your own photography.

 

It looks to me like he uses primes, because he's frequently changing lenses.

 

I looked into buying his print of the Afgan woman in the graveyard. The going rate for a 16x20 was $10,000 USD.

 

John

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He shoots with a Canon 1D-series camera. I don't know which exactly. I have seen a short video of him working. He uses zooms, perhaps 24-70L and 70-200L or something similar.

 

Jim shoots with 2 canon 1Ds mark 2, as for lens a 16-35 and a 50, he may own other lens but i don't think he uses them.

 

also while we are posting links about him, his acceptance speech for the TED award was nothing short of incredible. He narrates along side a slide show of his career beginning in Northern Ireland to his current work in Africa. It is a big file so broadband required but well worth the time to see one of this planets greatest photographers.

 

http://ted.streamguys.net/ted_nachtwey_j_2007_480.mov

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He's one of the best photojournalists of today, if not the best.

Canon or Leica? doesn't matter.. He shoots Canon and produces some of the best images I've seen. The camera is just a tool.

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Saw it. With my deepest respect to all these men and very few women, Capa did it, Don McCullin dit it, Eugene Smith and Philip Jones Griffith as well, along with others who didn´t become famous. Nachtway is doing it in this generation. What has changed? Forget about the camera - think about what you do. (Me included)

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I also heartily recommend the TED video.

I was fortunate to attend the VII London seminar back in the spring. Nachtway gave the final presentation, repeating the TED presentation, adding some more material and doing some Q&A. He was asked about lenses and answered that he never uses anything longer than 50mm, as it loses intimacy with his subject.

Hardly surprising that he uses Canon, as VII are sponsored by Canon. More interesting (for me at least) Nachtwey used film for his work on US soldiers injured in Iraq, apparently the exhibition prints were printed to include the edges of the film.

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The style of his photography made me believe he shot with Leicas.

 

there is no such thing as a style of photography that is associated with a certain brand (nikon, canon etc.).

 

the "leica style of photography" is a marketing fairy tale invented for wannabes who think they can buy anything besides a picture making tool.

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Guest sirvine

Is selling prints of human suffering for $10,000 part of this "style"? Isn't there an inkling of exploitation there? Or is criticism of the guns n' starvation school of journalism entirely unwelcome and off limits? Never mind, I already know the answer....

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Is selling prints of human suffering for $10,000 part of this "style"? Isn't there an inkling of exploitation there? Or is criticism of the guns n' starvation school of journalism entirely unwelcome and off limits? Never mind, I already know the answer....

 

Sol,

dont know why you think it should be off limits, but if you are saying that Nachtway specifically is exploitative then I think you would do well to research your subject a bit better before sounding off.

Guy

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Is selling prints of human suffering for $10,000 part of this "style"? Isn't there an inkling of exploitation there? Or is criticism of the guns n' starvation school of journalism entirely unwelcome and off limits? Never mind, I already know the answer....

 

What the market pays for his prints has nothing to do with his 'style' or his message. If he walked around in sackcloth and gave all his earnings to the poor would that make his photographs look any different? Would it be better if these images weren't seen?

 

The majority of photojournalists who cover the same beat as Nachtwey barely eek out a living. There must be something other then money that keeps them at it. The fact that he has had some commercial success and recognition of his talent does not change anything about his work other then it gets seen by more people.

 

More journalists get killed every year in war zones. They have become targets as the governments, armies, militias and corporations that are responsible for the atrocities they cover don't want these stories to see the light of day unless it's told by their spin doctors and propagandists. More power to the men and women who risk their lives trying to get the story told and if any of them can make a living at it? Good for them. Being an apologist for the powers that be certainly pays more in most instances.

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The style of his photography made me believe he shot with Leicas.

IIRC Jim started with Leicas, but switched to Canon some years ago.

 

The already mentioned War Photographer film is a must-see IMVHO. As has been said, his choice of lenses (in that film) were a wide angle zoom (which looked like 17-35mm to me - is that saddo behaviour!, plus a 50mm/1.4. He also carried a 14mm/2.8 and some other lens, which I think was a 35mm/1.4, but don't quote me.

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Thank you for the recommendation! I heard part of his lecture when he opened his show at the Fotografie Museum Amsterdam:

 

 

 

 

Of course I didn't strike him with a lightning bolt ;-)

 

Best,

Norbert

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Read the book "Inferno". if you can find it. A huge tome featuring JN's work. Absolutely amazing and somber book. It weighs ~ 10 pounds as well.

Steve

PS: He has earned has $. It's a wonder he's still alive. He could die tomorrow doing what he does.

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Is selling prints of human suffering for $10,000 part of this "style"? Isn't there an inkling of exploitation there?

 

Watch the film and I doubt you'll question Nachtwey's sincerity or integrity.

 

John

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Guest sirvine

I'll watch the film. I find the subject matter interesting from an ethical perspective. What if that was your mother laying dead in the street? Is it right to put helpless individuals in service of a cause? On the other hand, you don't need permission to take someone's photo, and you shouldn't. Just an interesting set of questions that deserve serious inquiry.

 

BTW, if I have a gripe, it's not with the journalists, but with the appetite of their audience. For example, ask yourself why it is perfectly OK to show dead people of every stripe and color, but dead American GI's are a whole different ballgame? I think people (the "buyers" so to speak) have suspicious motives for wanting to be "moved" by these images of tragic situations. Many of us who have suffered personal tragedy can attest to a lack of appetite

for watching suffering. As for the imperative to shine light on injustice, this implies an arbiter of what is just.

 

Anyway, I don't fault any photographer for shooting anything--my issues are with the audience as I say. I'll watch the film with an open mind, though.

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Sol, while I agree with your observation in general (see link), James Nachtwey is really something else, a completely different matter. Check out what he has done in his life, and watch some of his stuff, and I think you will also agree. This is a highly moral individual who is not doing it primarily for money or fame, but for the betterment of the world.

 

This photo, however, made me ill, one of the winners of the World Press Photo competition.

 

Honorable Mention - World Press Photo

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BTW, if I have a gripe, it's not with the journalists, but with the appetite of their audience. For example, ask yourself why it is perfectly OK to show dead people of every stripe and color, but dead American GI's are a whole different ballgame?

 

The American government and American military don't permit images of dead GI's and the American media cooperates. The American government and military also does not keep track of civilian casualties in Iraq, despite that fact when credible figures are released about civilian casualties they always say that they are much to high. You won't see images from Nachtwey or any similar imagery on American media either as it gets in the way of the carefully crafted fairytale being fed to the American public.

 

Not to get into another political discussion about Iraq but very little of what journalists risk their lives to report makes it to the public. They hear the same absurd talking points and spin repeated ad nauseum. To bad the bought and paid for pundits, talking heads and 'journalists' don't have a tenth of the integrety that Nachtwey has.

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Guest sirvine

Yes, another wrinkle in the ethical fabric--the nexus of propoganda and journalism. Your example illustrates this beautifully. To be the photogs in the rear of the frame is to be a tool of propoganda, but to be the photographer shooting over the shoulder at the whole scene is to expose the lie! Such a fine, fine line. As part of the audience, we have an obligation to question every photo we see--in fact, every thing we see.

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