Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Blogs of War: Susannah Breslin and Ben Brody

At first, you know, I wanted to take pictures of car bombs, because that was how the war was being fought.  I guess it’s like when you’re a soldier, you want to fight.  When you’re in that situation, you want to do it.  That was my way of adding to the fight.  Then I got there, and I was like, “How in the world could I ever want to photograph this, this devastation, these pools of blood?”  Every one of them were different.  The consistencies were the body parts, the smoke.  I remember seeing seared brain on the side of a car.  And the crowds.  There were always so many crowds.  The threat level was up extremely high, and they would gather around you and just look at you.  There would always be a big crater, blood everywhere.  You would see body parts, like a little foot, of a girl.  When I was there, and I was capturing these things, there was always part of me that was trying to figure this shit out.  How the hell could we come to this, you know?
That's Fred Minnick recounting his time in Iraq as a 46Q, an Army photojournalist, at the new blog The War Project.  Though Minnick's is currently the only story at The War Project, I have high hopes this will be a bookmark-worthy blog to which you'll want to return time and time again.  It's a labor of love by journalist Susannah Breslin, who intends to continue posting oral histories from veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  She introduces the War Project on her own blog, which you can read here.

The second war blog which has come my way in the past two weeks is called Dispatches: Afghanistan (a part of Global Post) and it features the photography of Ben Brody, one of the two best photojournalists I ever had the pleasure of serving with in my 20 years in the Army (the other shutterbug par excellence was Anton Daughters, but I don't know if he's pursued a photography career post-Army).

The photo you see above is of Private First Class Natalie Boysel, a SAW gunner with the 170th Military Police Company, who was struck by rocks and other debris during a patrol in Kandahar City on July 11.  Crouched below her, Ben caught the moment of impact; and the expression of pain and frustration is pretty palpable on PFC Boysel's face.

But Ben is like that--an expert at catching The Moment.  In the three years I worked with him, I always marveled at Ben's technical artistry with the camera and--this is perhaps his best trait as a photographer--the way he hovered quietly at the edge of a scene, melting into invisibility and waiting for just the right time to click the shutter.  You can see more of his outstanding work at his website.

Both of these new blogs are bringing the war closer to us through words and images.  And Iraq and Afghanistan do need to come closer to the majority of us living our deaf-to-war, marshmallow-soft lives here in the U.S.

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