DVD Mini-Review: War Photographer

With a little fiddling I can compress movies to put them onto my iPhone. This allows me to always carry a movie or two around with me one of which is always War Photographer.

Why? The fact that it is a great documentary is one thing. The fact that it is about a talented, eloquent, dedicated, mysterious and moral photographer is another. However, if I had to pop this in the DVD player I would have watched the movie only a couple of times. The fact that I carry it with me almost everywhere means that I have seen it many more times than that in small chunks.

If I'm feeling uninspired I'll sometimes find a quiet corner and watch 10 minutes to get fired up. If I think I'm getting too big for my boots I'll watch 10 minutes to remind myself how crap I really am.

I don't want to be a war photographer or even a photo-journalist and yet I learn something every time I take a few minutes to watch a clip. It's not the technical stuff but the attitude, drive and commitment of Nachtwey that makes me want to watch this documentary over and over. It is interesting to watch a real professional move and work in the field from a camera's eye view. It is also interesting to see how those captures become prints with a photo editor, or images in a magazine or on a gallery show's walls. The draw for me is Nachtwey's utter conviction, commitment and sacrifice to what he does. He shows the western world the uncomfortable truth about what is going on in the world. To do that he has given up a normal life and normal relationships. He has had success but the movie shows that what he has seen has changed and molded him. Remarkably he doesn't seem to have become a cynic and he's not an adrenaline junkie but there's something behind those eyes, something that makes those pictures, something created by the suffering and inhumanity Nachtwey has born witness to.

If you haven't seen War Photographer, especially if you have an interest in photography, make time to watch this documentary. It is the best film about a photographer and/or photography I have seen bar none. I cannot recommend War Photographer enough but be warned, it doesn't make a great date movie.

Posted on Friday, 22 May 2009 | Editorial