I Am A Conflict Photojournalist

For some reason I feel the need to share a little bit of the story of my life this evening, I rarely talk to people about my work outside of those who share the same experiences.
We can at times be a bit of an intense group, when we are on we are all the way turned on, and when we are off, anything can happen, normal people have a difficult time understanding what drives us to continue to return to some of the most dangerous places in the world, places where sane people flee, we run toward it, the life you lead is filled with madness and human suffering, as well as beautifully orchestrated acts of bravery and kindness.
For over thirty years I have photographed conflicts in every part of the world, more places than I can totaly recall in one sitting, Lebanon, Cambodia, The Balkins, El Salvador, Nicaragua, all over the Middle East, and so many many more.
Overall In the grand scheme, I have been pretty lucky, wounded many times, but lucky to have lived thru all the combat, so I consider the wounds to be part of territory that comes with the job.
I have been in two helicopter crashes, one in the triple canopy jungle of Cambodia, one in the mountains of Afghanistan, I consider them really hard landings, they were pretty trashed by the time it was over, but we all lived thru the experience, and got out on other ships.
Some of the wounds have been minor, others a bit more major, I have many scars, and each one tells a story, I have been blown damm near out of my clothes from rocket blasts, knocked unconscious from mortar concussions and falling debris, and I often sit around and pick pieces of shrapnel out of my body.
I have seen more carnage and death than most professional soldiers, and have done everything I could to save the lives of many, and held many as they took their last breath, it takes a special person to keep going back to this type of work, it takes a toll on all of us in the end.
finnigan1 finnigan1
51-55, M
8 Responses Dec 14, 2012

Thank you for the complement, never really considered myself to be brave, I think the words crazy, reckless and nuts have been thrown out there in the past though. :-)
Im just truely blessed to work in an industry I love and am good at, and someone has looked out for me and helped me stay alive, many never come home, but until recently, their names never made the news, most still don't.

Incredible!!!!! Thanks for the bravery and taking us there!

Trust me, there are plenty of scared moments, bit things change when you become absorbed in your job, but I am always aware of my surroundings, and do my best not to take a risk that could cause someone else harm attempting to fix or rescue me,of course my wife has a favorite expression, She likes to tell people if I tell them something is safe to do, approach with caution, my standard of safe is skewed.
Depends on the situation, I am generally pretty laid back, but can go to intense in a heartbeat!

It's been an adventure that's for sure, not many people would sign up for it, I've spent half of my adult life attempting to survive the adventures, and the other half dying for more.
It isn't always easy sharing the things I have witnessed, most people don't have a tolerance for much of it, so this site has allowed others to see a little bit of what I generally don't share with the world.
I have cracked the seal on the bottle, so I am letting a little bit come out at a time, but there will always be things I would rather not look back on and share, that may change over time.
Thank you for the warm and kind comment, look forward to a new friendship, and hearing your adventures.

I would be scared to death. All my photos would be blurry from shaking so much...lol
You must have an enormous threshold for stress. Bet your one of those laid back types.

Would love to read more about your incredible life!

Lost a brother, my girlfriends brother, and two close friends brothers in Nam, as well as several friends, this the reason I started doing what I do, I wanted to understand "Why"
Still dont know the answer.

I'm 64 years old. I began in Viet Nam as a boonie rat, I patroled the streets as a street bull cop for 26 years, in the Army NG for 13 years, 2 years as an IPLO (private contractor) embedded with the Iraqi Police and U.S. Army MPs (outside the wire) and security in Las Vegas. So I bet I can understand what you have seen better than most. Not all, any more than you can understand my feelings about holding a 3 year old girl who was just run over by her father, and comforting her while waiting for the paramedics.
But we both know the meaning of "been there, done that".

It has its moments of complete adrenaline driven terror to absurd beauty, there have been many places I have been that were stunningly beautiful and deadly all at the same time.
It is a business filled with such a mixture of emotions, and it is an absurd addiction, it is hard to walk away from, yet many times I have wanted to turn away and never look back.
I rarely share the experiences with those outside of my industry, how do you tell someone how your day went when you just held a man in your arms who was dying, and when do you put down your camera to help someone who is protecting your life.
There was a time in my career when I considered myself to be neutral, I was only there to tell a story, that all ended when people started targeting journalists, after that, I have never hesitated to pick up a wounded soldiers weapon and do what was needed to provide protection to them as well as myself, it's a difficult decision to make, but not so hard when your realize it is an issue of survival.
I do suffer from moments where I go to a time and place that is difficult to share with others, its difficult to feel normal when you are always looking for places that someone may have hidden an IED, or set up an ambush, but for the most part, people would never know what I have experienced unless I shared the stories.