By Hannah Jean Mabry
TARLETON (April 9, 2018) – Last night, Pulitzer-prize winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario shared many of her life experiences with Tarleton students, faculty and staff during a free event organized by the Tarleton Activities Board (T.A.B.). Addario spoke, answered questions, and signed books that attendees purchased.
Addario has worked for multiple publications, including The New York Times and National Geographic, in war-stricken locations all over the world such as Iraq, Darfur, Afghanistan and Libya.
Before Addario spoke, Madison Minor, with T.A.B., welcomed the group and Jordan Palmer, T.A.B. Director of Marketing, introduced the five finalists for the photo contest. The theme, “Where I’m Standing,” celebrated Women’s History Month. Haley Ivey, Luke Munchrath, Nadine Akomeah, Darian Loya and Avery Letterman were the finalists.
There were 11 entries total, and after the five finalists were selected, their photos were judged by Addario. The top three finalists were Munchrath, who placed first, Akomeah and Ivey, who received second and third, respectively. The first-place prize was a GoPro Hero.
Students were intrigued as Addario told of her exciting, and sometimes dangerous, life as a photojournalist. In 2000, after working in New York City for several years, Addario moved to India and wrote as a freelancer for multiple U.S. newspapers. She went to the Middle East for the first time before the September 11 attacks, but in 2003, she wanted to go back.
In early April, Saddam Hussein fell, and the Iraqis had to build a new government. Many demonstrations started happening in the streets.
“The insurgency began,” Addario said. “I wanted to see what the troops thought, so I started asking for a military embed. They didn’t try to stop any of our access. They let us see what they saw, they let us go in the houses they went in… We were able to photograph and document what they were doing.”
Addario also told stories of her photographing soldiers on classified missions, meeting with the Taliban, seeing the gruesome sights of village hospital care, and of being kidnapped. When a student asked how she handled her emotions when she saw and experienced these hard things, Addario responded, “I’ve been doing this for 23 years and I’m very much involved with the people I photograph. I photograph a lot of the same stories and sometimes I see a difference and sometimes I don’t. It’s hard to keep seeing people in vulnerable positions over and over.”
Another person asked how a student could have a job similar to Addario’s. Jokingly, Addario responded, “don’t tell your parents.” She also encouraged students to start taking photos of things they care about and telling stories.
“Figure out what kinds of story you want to tell, what’s important to you, what are the issues that you care about,” Addario said. “You can’t do this job in a superficial way. You have to be passionate about these stories… you really have to work hard.”