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.

Libya, Lynsey Addario

Captured by hostile forces: Just a few days after this photo was shot, three photographers and I were caught by pro-Gaddafi forces. It is hard to describe those moments of terror — we thought we were going to die. We were detained for six days, during which time I was groped by a dozen men. It was awful, but was it any more horrible than what happened to my male colleagues who were beaten and smashed on the head? When I think back on it now, the hardest times came later, when I heard about the deaths of two photojournalist friends in Libya: Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington. That really made me realize the precariousness of life. Yes, it was a miserable experience, but I was lucky to survive.

There was no place to retreat: If you wanted to get an image, you had to be up there on the front lines. This was a really hard war to navigate.

At night, it was relatively comfortable. Some Libyans had lent us their houses, and neighbors brought us food. The Libyan hospitality was fantastic — in general, people in the Muslim world are incredibly generous.

On being a female photographer: On the whole, I find it to be a great advantage. I can enter into family houses, talk with women, photograph them — that is something male journalists cannot do. This is important because nowadays most wars take place in the Muslim world.

Lynsey Addario, 38, is based in New Delhi. Her photos have appeared in The New York Times and The New Yorker.

Photo: March 6, 2011 In Eastern Libya, rebel troops fire at a Gaddafi government helicopter as it sprays the area with machine-gun fire.

Lynsey Addario
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