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James Nachtwey (born March 14, 1948) is an American photojournalist and war photographer. Robert Capa Gold Medal from the Overseas Press Club five times as well as two World Press Photo awards.
Nachtwey was injured in a grenade attack on his convoy while travelling in Baghdad, from which he made a full recovery. Nachtwey has been a freelance photographer for Time since 1984.
He worked with Black Star (1980-1985) and the VII Photo Agency (2001–2011), where he was a founding member.
Life and work
Nachtwey grew up in Massachusetts and graduated from Dartmouth College, where he studied art history and political science (1966–70).
In 1976, he began working as a newspaper photographer at the Albuquerque Journal. In 1980, he moved to New York City and began working as a freelance photographer. He covered his first assignment in Northern Ireland in 1981, displaying civil strife. He has chronicled a number of conflict and social crises, spent time in South Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union shooting photos of war, conflict, and photographs of socio-political problems in Western Europe and the United States. He is not married and currently lives in New York City.
Nachtwey was covering the forthcoming elections in South Africa in 1994, the first non-racial ones in decades. Ken Oosterbroek was shot and Greg Marinovich was seriously wounded as an associate of the Bang-Bang Club.
Nachtwey had been wounded in his work before, but his first combat injury occurred during his extensive coverage of the US invasion of Iraq. An rebel throws a grenade into the vehicle as Nachtwey and Time correspondent Michael Weisskopf rode in the back of a Humvee with the United States Army "Tomb Raiders" Survey Platoon. Weisskopf and the Time journalists were stabbed in the explosion, so we decided to throw it out of the humvee. Before going out, Nachtwey managed to capture several photographs of medic Billie Grimes treating Weisskopf. Both journalists were airlifted to Germany and then to hospitals in the United States. Nachtwey recovered enough to return to Asia to cover the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia.
Since 1984, Nachtwey has been working with Time as a contract photographer. He worked with Black Star from 1980 to 1985, and was a member of Magnum Photos from 1986 to 2001. He was a founding member of the VII Photo Agency in 2001 (he resigned from VII in July 2011).
Nachtwey was present in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and he created a well-known body of work. He also wrote an article on the effects of the Sudan civil war on civilians.
The documentary War Photographer was released in 2001, focusing on Nachtwey and his work. The film, directed by Christian Frei, received an Academy Award nomination for best documentary film.
When photographing political demonstrations in Thailand on February 1, 2014, Nachtwey was grazed by a bullet.
Nachtwey is one of three finalists of the 2007 TED Prize. At the 2007 TED conference in Monterey, California, each recipient was given $100,000 and one "world-changing wish" to be revealed. Many members of the TED Community and a group of world-class companies have pledged their help to help achieve the wishes. This is Nachtwey's wish, which was revealed on March 8, 2007, is this: "There's a vital tale that needs to be told, and I hope for TED to encourage me to learn about it and then help me to find creative and exciting ways to use news photography in the digital age." Many people who want to help him will sign a Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA) and assist him in "finding a location in the world where a critical situation is unfolding and fully documented with photography; set a date to reveal the images and find a way to make a difference with them; and use the campaign to source funds for organizations that are trying to solve and transform the situation. Early results of this research have been published at XDRTB.org to identify extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis around the world.
- 1983: Robert Capa Gold Medal from the Overseas Press Club
- 1984: Robert Capa Gold Medal from the Overseas Press Club
- 1986: Robert Capa Gold Medal from the Overseas Press Club
- 1993: World Press Photo of the Year
- 1994: Robert Capa Gold Medal from the Overseas Press Club
- 1995: World Press Photo of the Year
- 1998: Robert Capa Gold Medal from the Overseas Press Club
- 1999: Honorary Fellowship of The Royal Photographic Society.
- 2001: Academy Award nomination for best documentary film for War Photographer (2001), directed by Christian Frei.
- 2003: Dan David Prize from the Dan David Foundation and Tel Aviv University. An award of US$1 million for the "Present – Print & electronic media" theme, shared with Frederick Wiseman.
- 2006: 12th Annual Heinz Award in Arts and Humanities from The Heinz Family Foundation, including a prize of US$250,000.
- 2007: One of three winners of the 2007 TED Prize.
- 2012: Dresden Peace Prize
- 2016: Princess of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities
- 2017 Induction into the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum
- 2019: Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement