James Nachtwey
[Photographer, b. 1948, Syracuse, New York, lives in New York.]

 We must look at it. We’re required to look at it. We’re required to do what we can about it. If we don’t, who will? 
 The flow of reality has contours and dimensions much like the flow of a river. The characteristics of the current depend on the channel, whether it is a product of history or geology. Documentary photography has similar properties. The images I create are a confluence of what is in front of me and what is inside of me. They are objective and subjective at the same time, and they must be seen that way by the viewer in order to be convincing. 
 My job is not to go to someplace and fall apart. (Answer to a question about how he functions in the face of so much violence.) 
 I became a photographer in order to be a war photographer. 
 They had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile, a pile of little arms... And I realized like I was shot with a diamond bullet right through my forehead, and I thought, my God, the genius of that, the will to do that. 
 In a way, if an individual assumes the risk of placing himself in the middle of a war to communicate to the rest of the world what’s happening, he’s trying to negotiate for peace. Perhaps that’s the reason for those in charge of perpetuating the war do not like to have photographers around. 
 I don’t believe there’s any such thing as objective reality. It’s only reality as we experience it. And whatever emotions I’m feeling, for whatever reason I’m feeling them, get channeled into my work. If I’m feeling outraged, grief, disbelief, frustration, sympathy, that gets channeled through me and into my pictures and hopefully transmitted to the viewer. 
 When I approach people, I do it with respect, with deference; I do it slowly and gently and I think about the way I move, the way I speak and the way I use the camera. I let them know that I respect them and what they’re going through. 
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