DPP Home Profiles Patrick Whelan, Joe Raedle, Justin Sullivan & Spencer Platt - War Photography: From The Field To The Cover

Friday, June 8, 2007

Patrick Whelan, Joe Raedle, Justin Sullivan & Spencer Platt - War Photography: From The Field To The Cover

Photojournalists equipped with digital SLRs, laptop computers and satellite modems took pictures that were available to their editors within hours or even minutes

Joe Raedle, Embedded Photographer With The Marines
DPP: What equipment did you bring with you to cover the war?
Joe Raedle: I had two Canon 1D bodies, six batteries, eight flash cards, a 20-35mm lens and a 400mm IS ƒ/4 lens. I had a 1.4x and a doubler. I'd shoot in the high mode, but not RAW. I'd often shoot in the Program mode, depending on the lighting situation; if it was a tough lighting situation, then I'd go manual.

For sending images, like most of us in the field I had the Inmarsat BGAN data phone along with a Fujitsu F-series Lifebook laptop computer.

DPP: How did your equipment hold up in the harsh conditions over there?
Raedle: Amazingly, everything made it through without any problems. I was crawling through the ground with mud caked on the camera and no problems—I was amazed. Once the Inmarsat went down, but that was a satellite problem, not an equipment problem.

DPP: How do you shoot with out getting shot?
Raedle: I think it's a matter of luck—trying to put yourself in the right position to not get shot, yet trying to get your shot. It's a balancing act. In Nasiriyah, the company I was with lost 18 guys in one battle. I got hit in the back with a little bit of shrapnel. It was pretty hairy. I did have a bulletproof vest and a helmet.

DPP: All in all, how did the digital gear perform versus what you'd have expected from film-based gear?
Raedle: I prefer digital, especially in situations such as covering war, because of its immediacy. To a certain degree, you're no longer worried about getting the images back. Before, you had to worry about getting your film back for processing. Digital makes the job of getting your images back for publication much, much easier—though sometimes we'd be traveling all day and you can't transmit your images while you're moving; you have to be stationary.

DPP: What would you do for electricity?
Raedle: I bought a little 600- or 700-watt Honda generator when I was in Kuwait, which saved my butt many times. The Marines were able to keep me refueled.

DPP: How close did you and your Marines get to enemy forces?
Raedle: There were a couple of times when we got pretty close to hand-to-hand combat. Not during Nasiriyah, though. That was more mortars and RPGs—longer-range armed exchanges. Except for a few pockets, there was very little resistance. The Iraqis knew they couldn't fight toe-to-toe.

DPP: It takes a certain personality to cover war. Would you do it again?
Raedle: Yes. I think as a journalist, it's in your blood; it's why you're in this—to show people what's going on.


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