Nearly every time I find myself crying while looking at photos, I look down in the bottom corner and find James Nachtwey‘s name there. And I was so surprised when I was out shooting in Tokyo with Dan Herbertson when he asked me if I’d seen War Photographer, and I had not. I didn’t know there was a film out there about James Nachtwey. When I made it home to Los Angeles, Casey and I watched it together and it floored us.
I admire many shooters but Nachtwey tops my personal list. There’s so little I can impart about him that wouldn’t be better said by simply watching War Photographer (it’s on Netflix instant streaming) and looking through his galleries online.
Sometimes I sit around and question why I’m shooting MMA, not something more important. But right now, MMA is the story I can tell, the story I want to tell. And perhaps one day I’ll find myself on the front lines somewhere.
There’s a part of War Photographer where Nachtwey shows the two wide angle prime lenses he uses. His main lens? A 24mm prime. So wide. You have to be so close to the action. The documentarian asks him why. Nachtwey quotes photojournalist Robert Capa in response, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”
From March this year:
This photo by Nachtwey is part of Time Magazine’s 10 best photos of the year. I’ll admit, the other nine are great too but this one isn’t just a heart-wrenching, harrowing moment — it’s also art.
See War Photographer. Now. It’ll change you.