Book Review: It’s What I Do

It’s What I Do – A Photographer’s Life of Love and War – by Lynsey Addario.

A remarkable journalistic achievement from a Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur Fellowship winner that crystallises the last 10 years of global war and strife while candidly portraying the intimate life of a female photojournalist.

Over the last decade, Addario has been periodically beaten, robbed, kidnapped, shot at and sexually assaulted from one end of the Middle East and North Africa to the other.

Risking her life for images that might change public policy, she ran into Taliban fighters who fired on her in the Korengal Valley, Gadhafi loyalists who imprisoned her in Libya and Israeli soldiers who abused her outside the Gaza Strip. A deadly car accident in Pakistan nearly claimed her life.

Many of Addario’s friends and colleagues did die during that time while lovers faded away and family members freaked out. But such was the cost of the author’s life’s work. Told with unflinching candour, the award-winning photographer brings an incredible sense of humanity to all the battlefields of her life. Especially affecting is the way in which Addario conveys the role of gender and how being a woman has impacted every aspect of her personal and professional lives.

Whether dealing with ultra-religious zealots or overly demanding editors, being a woman with a camera has never been an easy task.

Somewhere amid Addario’s dizzying odyssey, she also became a mother. However, instead of slowing her down, it only deepened the battle-hardened correspondent’s insight into the lives of those she so courageously sought to photograph.

“Just as in Somalia,” she writes, “when I had felt my baby moving inside me as I witnessed the suffering of other infants, I could suddenly understand, in a new, profound, and enraging way, the way most people in the world lived.”

A brutally real and unrelentingly raw memoir that is as inspiring as it is horrific.