Mike Kamber has had many, many lives. The founder and executive director of the Bronx Documentary Center worked as a documentary photographer for over two decades, and his work has twice been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He lived in the Bronx for a period in the 1980s and dreamed of making an educational space that would bring arts and education to the South Bronx. Founded in 2011, the Bronx Documentary Center is a nonprofit organization and mecca for photography lovers.
Michael Kamber is a photojournalist who has been working around the world since 1986; he has traveled to Iraq, Afghanistan, Liberia, the Sudan, Haiti,
Today you just hit the filter button on your Instagram, and you’ve got this wildly impressionistic photograph that is more of an illustration. We need to make it clear. What is an illustration and what is photojournalism? What is an illustration and what is documentary photography? I think that idea is slipping away, and I think that it is more prevalent in Europe where the photographer is an artist and he has his artistic vision. I think that takes us to some very different places.
Photojournalists On War is the result of five years of interviews with some of the world’s leading photojournalists. However, it’s also the fruit of Michael Kamber’s frustration over the harrowing images that were never shown or published before
As Dexter Filkins suggests in the introduction to his book Photographers on War, the war was the first and last of its kind. Michael Kamber is one of the witnesses of this conflict and its endless acts of cruelty.
“When you’re in a situation where ten car bombs explode on a daily basis for eight years straight, after a while it becomes no longer just another attack,” says Kamber. “It’s a challenge to keep documenting these daily tragedies, especially when the fighting is long-range, and at best we can capture only the consequences.”
A new book, “Photojournalists at War,” is an oral history of the Iraq war from the perspective of three dozen photojournalists who documented it from the front lines.
As the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war’s start approaches, Lens highlights “Photojournalists at War,” an oral history of the conflict as recounted by those who documented it from the front lines. The book, published this month by the University of Texas Press, was written by Michael Kamber, who covered the war for eight years for The New York Times.
An organization founded by friends of Tim Hetherington simulates real war-injury scenarios at the Bronx Documentary Center, complete with pools of blood, contorted limbs and frenetic movement amid smoke-clad air, in order to train photographers and journa
“Tim was my closest friend,” says Michael Kamber, founder and director of the Bronx Documentary Center. “He bled to death because he was surrounded by photographers who didn’t know how to stop the bleeding.”
Mr. Kamber decided that someone had to gather all of his fellow photojournalists’ accounts and unpublished images in one place so there would be, in his words, “an accurate history.” So he took on the task himself and started formally recording his colleagues. He has collected 39 of these interviews in a book, “Photojournalists on War.”
Though you were in New York, thousands of miles away from where the two were killed, you immediately publicly criticized these photographers—both with decades of experience—for their own deaths.
Your Facebook post reads, “Four guys hit with the same round were too close together.” In fact, they may have been climbing into a truck to retreat, they might have been helping wounded civilians, they might have been running for common shelter.
On his latest tour of Afghanistan, the photojournalist Michael Kamber finds that the war is becoming more intricate and more complicated.
In early December, Alissa J. Rubin, The Times’s bureau chief in Kabul, takes me along on a visit to meet with the public affairs team at the International Security Assistance Force. I’m skeptical at first, but they turn out to be a smart, slightly ironic bunch who are tremendously helpful in getting us to where we want to go and furnishing us with updates. There is little of the mutual distrust I felt between the press and the military in Iraq. Weeks later, though, a high-ranking officer will call to complain about my written coverage: a quote from a Taliban spokesman has particularly incensed him.
Four months after Neil Burgess famously called time of death on photojournalism, the debate is still raging. In fact, it’s been around for decades, as photographer Michael Kamber tells Phil Coomes of the BBC. “I remember arriving in New York in 1985 only to find that I'd arrived too late: photojournalism was dead. This was common knowledge - everybody said so.”
The night before I leave Paris, Alissa J. Rubin, the Times’s bureau chief in Kabul, e-mails me to say that our embed is postponed. The unit we’re to join has suffered a tragedy. “Yesterday, they had six soldiers killed by an Afghan border policeman-in-training,” she writes. Six families have just had their lives torn apart.
The following interview was conducted in Baghdad on Dec. 9, 2009, by Michael Kamber, a seasoned conflict photographer himself (“Hard Lessons From Somalia,” “A Long and Dangerous Road,” “Minders, Fixers, Troubles”). He is working on a book about photojournalism and war photography. This condensed version of their conversation begins with Mr. Silva describing his background.
What confuses me is the thought behind the video and comments: Michael Kamber is surprised that a system meticulously designed to censor the likes of him, is…..censoring him.
Isn’t this precisely what this system is designed to do?
With the premier nearing of his documentary, “Restrepo,” Tim Hetherington takes time to talk with Michael Kamber about the future of photojournalism.
The documentary “Restrepo,” directed by Mr. Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, will open Friday. Last week, Mr. Hetherington sat down with Mr. Kamber in Midtown Manhattan to talk about the film — and much else besides. Their remarks have been edited for brevity and clarity.
On Assignment: Hard Lessons in Somalia
Lens Blog – NYTimes.com:
Few photographers will find themselves in as dangerous a setting as Somalia. But some of the lessons learned there by Michael Kamber, who is at work on a book about photojournalism and war photography, can be applied to many challenging situations.
Missing ‘the Big Story,’ but Not the Story – New York Times Blog
By MICHAEL KAMBER
Photojournalist Joao Silva and I jumped in a car and searched the streets. We found U.S. soldiers towing a damaged Humvee. It had been struck by a roadside bomb. Days later we were nearly knocked off our feet by the Red Cross bombing, which killed scores. Bodies were scattered across an entire city block.
Joao, myself and Dexter Filkins were set upon by a crowd and nearly killed as we covered the attacks that morning.