War photographers talk about the shots that almost got them killed

“I was photographing a funeral, and having spent most of the day with the women, I went to see the body being taken in. A man in the procession started screaming, ‘CIA agent’ and pointing at me. I was surrounded by hundreds of angry men, screaming in my face, grabbing me. I was terrified, and thought, ‘This is it. I am going to die.'” -Ami Vitale in The shot that nearly killed me: War photographers – a special report, the Guardian.

While we all know war photography is a dangerous business–and that’s come into sharp focus in Libya this year, especially–viewers often don’t realize just how quickly a situation can go from sort of okay to life-threatening. That’s what I find so compelling about this collection of short vignettes in the Guardian by photojournalists about the shots that nearly got them killed. Some are stories we know well but remain harrowing: Lynsey Addario talks about her capture and treatment in Libya earlier this year (previously on dvafoto); João Silva relates stepping on a landmine in October 2010.

But others offer a close look into the chaos of being on the ground in far-flung places with only a camera between the photographer and nearly certain death: Ami Vitale describes the time a mob in Gaza thought she was a CIA agent and began to attack; Marco di Lauro talks about when a grenade was thrown in his direction; John D McHugh writes about getting shot while embedded in Afghanistan. None of these are easy reading, and the article serves as a chilling reminder of what goes on before, during, and after a photographer gets the picture.

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