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Photojournalist Lynsey Addario focuses on war and love in her new memoir

Photojournalist Lynsey Addario has traveled the world, capturing images of war, famine, brutality and displacement, from Darfur to Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. She joins Jeffrey Brown to discuss her career, how she managed her fear and a new memoir, "It's What I Do."

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Now: the life and times of a prize-winning photojournalist who has covered every major international conflict over the past 15 years.

    Jeffrey Brown has our book conversation.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Cuba 1997, Calcutta 2000, Afghanistan before and after the Taliban, Iraq with American forces in Baghdad, famine and war in Darfur, and Libya, where, in 2011, she was bound, blindfolded and held with three fellow journalists for six days by soldiers of Moammar Gadhafi.

    Photojournalist Lynsey Addario, the youngest of four girls from a Connecticut suburb, has traveled the world and now tells her story in a memoir, "It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War."

    And welcome to you.

    LYNSEY ADDARIO, Author, "It's What I Do": Thank you.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Early in this book, you tell of an epiphany that comes at an exhibition from the great photographer Sebastiao Salgado, where you see that photography can be art and journalism?

  • LYNSEY ADDARIO:

    Yes, it was a moment.

    I hadn't — I had no training in photojournalism or in photography, so I really was learning as I went along. And I remember walking into this exhibition of Salgado's. And I walked in and the prints were massive. They were just wall-size.

    And I looked around, and I was so overcome by not only the beauty of the images, but the power of the images and the fact they were showing the lives of these workers.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Well, what did it make you want to do?

  • LYNSEY ADDARIO:

    It made me want to do that.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Yes? Yes?

  • LYNSEY ADDARIO:

    It made me want to use photographs to tell stories.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    And how do you do that? Give me an example. One focus throughout your work has been on women, for example, especially in the Muslim world. So how do you tell the stories of them?

  • LYNSEY ADDARIO:

    Sure.

    I try — first of all, I do a lot of research before I even go. So people think photography is about lifting the camera and taking a picture. To me, it's so much about doing your homework, going into a situation, getting to know the subject, making them feel comfortable, getting intimate access, getting access to all different aspects of people's lives, so that I am essentially telling an entire story, and not just a single one.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    All this is before you lift the camera, I mean, getting comfortable, getting into their lives?

  • LYNSEY ADDARIO:

    Getting — exactly. All of that is before I even start shooting, unless we're talking about covering a front line.

    To me, covering a front line, you just go in, and there is so much happening around you, it's just a matter of shooting. But when I'm documenting, for example, a story on women in Afghanistan, I will do a huge amount of research and a lot of time on the ground just getting to know the women before I even start shooting.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    In covering front lines or in other dangerous situations, you write about how it's not that you don't feel fear, right? You do feel fear, but you feel something else. What's the compulsion to be there?

  • LYNSEY ADDARIO:

    Well, I think I feel fear the entire time I'm on the ground usually, because the proximity to the possibility of dying is so obvious. And when there are bullets flying everywhere, of course it's terrifying.

    But for me, I try and manage that fear and I try and compartmentalize it while I'm working, and put it somewhere, and continue to photograph. But, also, when I'm actually in that situation, and I initially feel the fear, I forget to photograph, because I'm trying to figure out how to stay alive.

    So I remember, in the Korengal Valley, we had been on a six-day-long operation with the 173rd Airborne Battle Company, and we had been dropped onto the side of a mountain and we were walking six days. And we were ambushed by the Taliban on the sixth day. And we were hit from three sides.

    And I actually had run off alone to find a place to go to the bathroom, and the ambush started. And when I finally made my way down the mountain and got back with the troops, I still hadn't taken a picture, like, five minutes into the ambush. And I remember looking to my right, and the late photographer Tim Hetherington was just standing there filming.

    And I just thought, oh, my God, I'm the worst photographer ever. I have completely forgotten.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    But even mentioning his name, Tim Hetherington, who died doing the work, you must get asked this all the time. Why do it? Why put yourself…

  • LYNSEY ADDARIO:

    Everyone asks me that.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Yes.

  • LYNSEY ADDARIO:

    And everyone says, do you do it for the adrenaline?

    No. I think — I think, as a person who has done — covered conflict for the last 15 years, I didn't voluntarily just start covering war to be a war photographer. There were the issues that I felt were important. I would go to cover the issues. And then at some point, I would get pulled into the actual combat because it was part of the story.

    But for me, it's more about being there, bearing witness to history, bearing witness to what's happening, what our country, the position our country is taking overseas. I want policy-makers to see the fruits of their decisions, basically, and to try and influence foreign policy.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    You know, in that very harrowing section of the book about the capture of what happened in Libya, you write about the danger is growing, your sense of it is growing.

  • LYNSEY ADDARIO:

    Sure.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    You're with three other journalists, all men, and then you say, I didn't want to be the cowardly photographer or the terrified girl who prevented the men from doing the work. You didn't want to speak up and say, hey, guys, we have got to get out of here.

  • LYNSEY ADDARIO:

    Sure. Sure. Sure.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    You were already a very experienced war photojournalist then, but you still felt that?

  • LYNSEY ADDARIO:

    I think I will always feel it. I think that I will always feel — I'm aware of my gender. And my colleagues are not. I — my colleagues wouldn't have cared less had I been the one to say, hey, let's go.

    I do think that I work in a man's world. I work — there are not that many women war correspondents — or war photographers. Actually, there are correspondents. There just are not many women war photographers. And I'm always sort of aware of my gender in those situations. And so I think at some point, Steve Farrell said, hey, it's time to go. And I sort of was like, oh, yes, I agree. Me, too.

    But I think…

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    But it was too late.

  • LYNSEY ADDARIO:

    It was late at that point. I think we all were very conscious of the fact after the fact that we had pushed the envelope.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    You do say here that, because this is about love, as well as war, right, that episode did change your life in some way. You decided to have a child finally with your husband.

  • LYNSEY ADDARIO:

    I did. I think it was a combination of many things. I think it was what happened in Libya. I think it was the fact that Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were killed in Libya exactly a month after we were released, and Joao Silva, the photographer, New York Times photographer, had just lost his legs in Afghanistan.

    And they were all friends. And I was seeing what was happening around me. And I had put my personal life on hold for 35 years. And I finally said, OK, now it's time.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    But you continue it, the work?

  • LYNSEY ADDARIO:

    I continue. I do continue the work.

    I am still working war zones, but I'm trying to stay safe. I'm trying to do it in a way that I am not in the middle of combat. I'm covering refugees. I'm covering the humanitarian aspect, but less going into combat.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    All right, the memoir is, "It's What I Do."

    Lynsey Addario, thank you so much.

  • LYNSEY ADDARIO:

    Thank you so much.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And you can see a slide show of some of Lynsey Addario's photographs on our Web site. That's at PBS.org/NewsHour.

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