SHOOTING UNDER FIRE: The World of the War Photographer

Elham Saleh
Translated by Abbas Hajihashemi


Assembled by Peter Howe, SHOOTING UNDER FIRE: The World of the War Photographer brings together the works of 10 extraordinary photographers, this master's class on war photography and includes more than 150 b&w and color photos, annotated with descriptions of their subjects and with very personal reflections from practitioners like magazine contract photographers James Nachtwey (Time) and Ron Haviv (Newsweek) about the nature of their work.

This book is a collection of interviews with ten of the world's best photojournalists: Patrick Chauvel, Philip Jones Griffiths, Ron Haviv, Catherin Leroy, Don McCulling, Susan Meiselas, Christopher Morris, James Nachtwey, Maggie Steber, and Laurent Van der Stockt.

They relate their experienced while working in war ones and discuss the physical and emotional hazards of the job as well as the ethical hurdles that they must face.

A former war photographer in Northern Ireland and El Salvador, Howe, in his illustrated introductory essay, offers first-hand knowledge of the addictive nature of violence and the voyeurism inherent in the business. And as former picture editor for the New York Times Magazine and director of photography for Life, he is also able to lay bare the mechanism by which an image tells a story.

The pictures include most of the wars over the course of the past 60 years from the Cyprus war in the 50s all through the war of Afghanistan in the 21st century.

The pictures are in fact the oral history of these wars, say many reviewers of the book.

The featured photographers join the chorus one by one. Haviv says the work is "completely selfish," in that it takes him into the history of a country, but he also talks about the role of war photography in helping people.

MacArthur Fellowship winner Susan Meiselas explains: "I don't have any doubt that what propels you into these powerful situations is the feeling that whatever you're bringing home is evidence of something of tremendous significance." Her photographs of the execution of Maryknolls nuns in San Salvador are now part of the civil case filed against two members of the government at the time. On the whole, the images—of murders, torture, ruins, hooded paramilitary militias, dead soldiers and civilians, burning vehicles, scarred victims, fleeing refugees—are brutal. At the same time, the stories these photographers tell, and the images they republish here, focus the world's attention on war's atrocities at a crucial moment.

Shooting Under Fire is the candid testimony and stunning photographs of the men and women who go into battle armed only with a camera to show warfare as it is and where it is.

In this volume, the leading combat photographers relate incidents of horror, humor, bravery, and daring in locations from Vietnam to Haiti, Ramallah to Chechnya, El Salvador to Sarajevo, the World Trade Center to Afghanistan. Here, in their own words, are their stories of life in the combat zone, together with many of the powerful images they risked their lives to obtain.

This historical and very human look at the pathos of war also reveals the moral and ethical issues that this elite corps of photographers face, and the decisions they must make in the chaos of conflict.

In addition to the works of these talented photographers are iconic images, from the American Civil War to the devastation of the World Trade Center, that tell the story of the development of combat photography and the profound changes in warfare itself that have occurred in the last century and a half.

Solmaz Haddadian rendered the book into Persian in 240 pages and had it published in the Iranian market by Saghi and the Society of Revolutionary and Sacred Defense Photospheres in 2012.

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Is oral history the words of people who have not been seen?

Some are of the view that oral history is useful because it is the words of people who have not been seen. It is meant by people who have not been seen, those who have not had any title or position. If we look at oral history from this point of view, it will be objected why the oral memories of famous people such as revolutionary leaders or war commanders are compiled.

Daily Notes of a Mother

Memories of Ashraf-al Sadat Sistani
They bring Javad's body in front of the house. His mother comes forward and says to lay him down and recite Ziarat Warith. His uncle recites Ziarat and then tells take him to the mosque which is in the middle of the street and pray the funeral prayer (Ṣalāt al-Janāzah) so that those who do not know what the funeral prayer is to learn it.

A Critique on Oral history of War Commanders

“Answering Historical Questions and Ambiguities Instead of Individual-Organizational Identification”
“Oral history of Commanders” is reviewed with the assumption that in the field of war historiography, applying this method is narrated in an advancing “new” way, with the aim of war historiography, emphasizing role of commanders in creation of its situations and details.
A cut from memoirs of Jalil Taeffi

Escaping with camera

We were in the garden of one of my friends in "Siss" on 26th of Dey 1357 (January 16, 1979). We had gone for fun. It was there that we heard the news of Shah's escape from the local people. They said that the radio had announced. As soon as I heard this news, I took a donkey and went on its back.