“If I don’t photograph it, it won’t become known.” Anja Niedringhaus
We know her photographs even if we don’t know her name. They have appeared on the covers of magazines and newspapers worldwide, defining our image of the wars and crises of our time. For the last 20 years, Anja Niedringhaus has been traveling to the theaters of war around the world—in Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Israel—photographing misery and suffering in vivid and unflinching detail. As one of the few women working in this specialized branch of photography, she documents human tragedies and the deep scars left by violence. When sent on assignment, Anja Niedringhaus does not photograph scenes at a distance, but places herself within them—as someone who herself is involved, immersed in the war.
The nature of Anja Niedringhaus’ work means taking photographs under extreme conditions. She deliberately seeks out these kinds of extreme experiences because they bring her closer to her subjects and herself. This experience is often lost to the normal observer, for whom the context tends to undermine the drama. Her works focus on people: soldiers, weary and traumatized civilians, prisoners of war. Her photographs show faces marked by exhaustion, desperation, and tension—yet again and again, they reveal brief, unexpected moments of laughter, lightheartedness, and joy amid the suffering. The photographer approaches her subjects with curiosity and understanding, never compromising their dignity.