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Anja Niedringhaus | Pulitzer Prize Winning Photojournalist

By Modernartandstyle @modernartstyle

Photojournalists do important work that's at once, dangerous, exhilarating and consuming. Add in the steady dwindling of influence and resources afforded by working closely with a magazines, wire or newspapers, and you start to understand the difficulties of this field of photography. Once, print reigned supreme and each news outlet had a huge advertising arm that funded excursions into war zones and remote villages and cities all over the world.

Now it's not uncommon for photojournalists to be freelancers. Putting their lives at risk for inconsistent pay and little to no benefits or backup at the off chance some news organization might pick up their work. Without the financial backing or the prestige of a major news outlet, there is no one on hand to fight on their behalf if say they were kidnapped-and now-a-days, even that's not enough.

Still, photojournalists are drawn to their job by a very conscious decision-whether it's a novel, yet benign assignment, sports or going into an inhospitable environment. It's not really about the money, or prestige or some warped adrenaline high. It's mainly a sense of duty or activism that requires courage and a desire to give voice to the marginalized and get out the truth.

Anja Niedringhaus embodied these ideals.

Anja Niedringhaus | Pulitzer Prize Winning Photojournalist

She was a Pulitzer prize winning German photojournalist who worked for the AP. She, along with 11 of her colleagues won for their combined coverage of the Iraq war. She also won the International Women's Media Foundation's Courage in Journalism award and the Nieman fellowship at Harvard. She's one of those rare photojournalists whose work has been recognized, honored in galleries the world over.

For me, covering conflict and war is the essence of journalism. My assignment, regardless of the era, is about people-civilians and soldiers. The legacy of any photographer is her or his ability to capture the moment, to record history. For me it is about showing the struggle and survival of the individual.
Anja Niedringhaus | Nieman Reports

Niedringhaus (1965-2014) was a grizzled veteran, cutting her teeth covering the fall of the Berlin wall as a freelancer at the tender age of 16. That led to a job with the European Pressphoto Agency. There, she covered war in Yugoslavia for ten years. She traveled to America to document September 11 th and its aftermath. Shortly afterwards she joined the AP. Once there, she worked the Middle East, shooting assignments in Kuwait, Israel, Turkey, Pakistan, the Gaza Strip, Afghanistan and Iraq. It was in Afghanistan that she was killed covering the elections in 2014. An afghan police commander walked up to the vehicle she was in and shot it up-wounding another photojournalist. She was almost 50 at the time of her death. In the wake of her demise, the IWMF started the Anja Niedringhaus award for female photojournalists.

Her style is straightforward, idealistic and honest. She covered sports and protests as well but her photos from war-torn countries comprise the bulk of her work and will be what she's most remembered for. The intimacy and familiarity of her images shows the compassion of everyday people thrust into extraordinary and sometimes daunting situations. Faced with grim realities, you see her subjects try to maintain some semblance of normalcy or at least decency. A soldier carries a toy figure in his backpack. An Afghan policeman has a flower sticking out the AK slung on his back. She focuses on a back tattoo of a German soldier working out during down time. An Afghan kid brandishing a realistic toy gun while on a carousel swing.

Niedringhaus tries to remember the humanity in all the craziness and it's so appreciated.

Anja Niedringhaus | Pulitzer Prize Winning Photojournalist

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