Magnum Photos member Peter van Agtmael shares his journey as a conflict photographer, and the importance of adopting an open, questioning approach to photojournalism.
While at Yale, van Agtmael also developed a more critical approach to the mythos of America he had consumed as a youth. His friends, Chesa Boudin, now the District Attorney of San Francisco, and Sarah Sillman, currently a staff writer at The New Yorker, shared their perspectives on “how power is used to manipulate people across the political spectrum into a status quo narrative of the nature of American power and justice,” helping him to see beneath the surface of things and find a new way to engage.
Peter van Agtmael has been documenting the Twenty Year War since its very beginning. I first spoke with him in 2007 and then again ten years later. He has published a number of books, all of them essential records of a country too embroiled in its own senseless militarism to recognise the folly of it all. There’s Disco Night Sept. 11, there is Buzzing at the Sill, and now there is Sorry for the War.
Van Agtmael’s images in his new book, “Sorry for the War,” highlight all the little ways in which the war twists and perverts whatever it touches, over there as well as over here.
For a decade and a half, Peter van Agtmael has been photographing the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and their human fallout around the globe. In 2014, he published “Disco Night Sept 11,” which chronicled some of the more unexpected echoes between the wars overseas and the home front between 2006 and 2013. His new book, “Sorry for the War,” focusses on Iraq but roves farther afield. It includes images of refugees in Europe, U.S. military veterans Stateside, victims of an isis terrorist attack in Paris, an American guard at Guantánamo, and an Iraqi civilian injured in the battle of Mosul. Each individual picture is startlingly rich and lucid. Cumulatively, though, they present the viewer with a riddle: What can we learn from this body of work as a whole?
Elliott Erwitt, Zun Lee, Alec Soth, and more on the turning points in their photographs—from global and national events to the most personal moments.
Turning points in the lives and works of photographers often span the extremes—from global and national events to the most personal moments. Photographers such as Alec Soth and Zun Lee are able to not only bear witness to events that shape our collective history, but also to map more intimate transitions within their craft and their everyday lives.
A special photography project traces the group visually, from colonialism to the group's modern atrocities
ISIS, that much feared, reviled, celebrated, media-savvy and somewhat phantasmagoric entity, “promotes itself much less through a coherent ideology than via the equivalent of an aggregated, gigantic snuff-selfie,” writes Peter Harling in A Brief Visual History in the Time of ISIS, the first issue of the photo-based publication Magnum Chronicles. According to photographer Peter van Agtmael’s introductory statement, Magnum Chronicles will be published on occasion to provide timely reflections on issues of critical importance, utilizing imagery by the agency’s photographers to create a kind of first draft of history.
With the widespread uncertainty and fear over the increasingly exposed divisions in the United States, I hope this work can give perspective on the rarely seen corners of this dense, complex, and troubled nation. Moving through the vastness of America the
Peter van Agtmael’s new monograph, Buzzing at the Sill published by Kehrer, is a timely collection of images of a more challenged America, a sequel to his well-celebrated book, Disco Nights September 11th. Expanding on his work created during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2006 to 2013, and their impact back home, Buzzing at the Sill, shows us a country in flux, a country in crisis, and more importantly, a country in need of better days
At a moment when the country’s divisions feel otherwise inscrutable, the photographer’s work delivers new ways of seeing American violence and fortitude.
On the eve of Donald Trump’s Inauguration, I rode the train from New York to Washington, D.C., with a book tucked in my bag like a private salve. The volume—a new photo collection by Peter van Agtmael, called “Buzzing at the Sill”—doesn’t radiate comfort in any obvious sense. Its cover is ominous: a copper image of a buzzard with its wings outstretched; we learn, from the book’s text, that the bird banged at the window of a U.S. military hospital in Texas, where soldiers, badly burned in Iraq and Afghanistan, struggled to recuperate
What pushes (Magnum) photographers to obsessively pursue their own perspective? A young, brilliant member of the legendary photo agency reveals the story behind his life-long romance with the medium
At this year's World Press Photo Award Days, LensCulture’s managing editor Alexander Strecker sat down with van Agtmael for a wide-ranging discussion about the photographer’s work, Magnum, myths in photojournalism and much more. This is an edited transcript of their conversation:
The Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund today announces, exclusively through TIME LightBox, the winners of its 2015 grants
This year’s selection of awardees are Massimo Berruti, Matt Black, Peter DiCampo, Emine Gozde Sevim, Curran Hatleberg, Guy Martin, Pete Muller, Elena Perlino, Nii Obodai Provencal, Asim Rafiqui and Peter van Agtmael
Peter van Agtmael spent the last Gaza war taking pictures on the Israeli side. But when the fighting ended he made the surreal journey across the Erez Crossing from Israel into the Strip, home to some 1.8 million Palestinians. What he encountered changed the way he worked.
If you’re looking for bang-bang, this might not be your book. There are photographs of soldiers who later ended up KIA, and of Marines swimming in an Afghan canal while a member of the outfit next door is shredded by an IED. War, especially like those in Afghanistan and Iraq following the short initial “shock and awe” phase, is fleeting and random. It’s like relentlessly spinning a carnival wheel, and waiting for your number to turn up…and praying that it never does.
Disco Night Sept 11 is a book about more than the brutality of conflict. It is an intimate and personal meditation on modern warfare from the perspective of a young American photographer who came of age in the confusion of a post 9/11 world, and who saw m
Disco Night Sept 11 is a book about more than the brutality of conflict. It is an intimate and personal meditation on modern warfare from the perspective of a young American photographer who came of age in the confusion of a post 9/11 world, and who saw many others of his generation sign up to fight towards abstract ends and unpredictable fates.
Peter van Agtmael was born in Washington DC. He studied history at Yale, graduating with honors in 2003. Since 2006 he has primarily covered the 9/11 Wars and their consequences, working extensively...
Emotion is the starting point but emotion can be cloudy and two dimensional on its own. I’ve tried to first let myself feel, then try to interpret what I’ve been feeling, then root it in the history of the medium and of human experience, which of course are two things that are cyclical but nonetheless leave plenty of room for freedom. They also help balance each other out. Sometimes the mind is terrifying and sometimes the heart is.
Marine Cpl. Christopher G. Scherer, 21, was killed by a sniper on July 21, 2007, in Karmah, Iraq. He was from East Northport, New York. His bedroom was photographed in…
While they grew up on opposite sides of the world, Ashley Gilbertson [Australian] and Peter van Agtmael [American] found themselves trudging through the same Iraqi soil in the mid-2000s. Unlike soldiers in uniform, however, Gilbertson and van Agtmael holstered cameras instead of guns, training lenses instead of barrels on discrete moments of soon-to-be-history
LightBox presents a special preview of the season’s best photography books, featuring releases as varied as a monograph on Danny Lyon; inspired contemporary work by Richard Renaldi; a poignant reflection on the lingering anxieties of war by Peter van Agtmael; and a re-envisioned edition of Jim Goldberg’s groundbreaking 1985 book, Rich and Poor.
In a new oral history of the Iraq war, Peter van Agtmael discusses what attracted him to photographing the American-led invasion — his roots, ambitions, experiences and reflections.
“Photojournalists on War,” an oral history of the Iraq war by those who documented it from the front lines, was published this month by the University of Texas Press. The book consists of interviews conducted by Michael Kamber, who covered the war for eight years for The New York Times and is a co-founder of the Bronx Documentary Center.