Through the Eyes of Female Photographers

Once thought of as too frail for the job, five award-winning women photojournalists share their most vivid memories from the field — and the images they will never forget.

November 22, 2011 11:00 AM
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Iraq, Andrea Bruce

Witnessing a crisis unfold: This photo was taken as we followed a group of Marines who, like cowboys, were rounding up Iraqi looters. The Marines had no translators with them, so nobody could understand what was going on. I was there when this soldier kind of lost it and started pointing his gun at this civilian, who was crying for his life. He was in shock, hoping the soldier wouldn't pull the trigger. I didn't interfere — it was getting out of hand, and I didn't want to make the situation worse. Being physically close to your subject gives the photo greater impact — it's not as intrusive as you might think. When you're in the midst of the action, your subjects don't even notice your presence. It's as if you become part of the background scenery.

Keeping the fear at bay: When you're in the field, you forget about fear — there are too many logistics to think about. The only moment when fear creeps in is when you've put down your camera, for instance, or when you have a long road trip ahead of you. Then you just have to accept it. I listen to music to help keep my fear in check in these situations. Soldiers are not used to seeing women on the front lines. So when they see female photographers, they're very surprised. They try to protect us, which is very annoying. The male photographers, on the other hand, are great. They're like our brothers. Over there, we're one big family.

Andrea Bruce, 38, is a staff photographer at The Washington Post.

Photo: April 2003 U.S. Marines detain an Iraqi looter at gunpoint.

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