Unlike most photographers, Lynsey Addario kickstarted her career not while studying at art school or documenting daily life in her community, but against the backdrop of Taliban rule just before the onslaught of 9/11. Having already based herself in Argentina, New York and India, in 2000 the self-taught photographer – aged 26 at the time – decided to travel to Afghanistan to document the oppression of women living under Taliban rule.
“I never set out to cover war. Photography for me was more like an excuse to go travel the world, meet people and learn about other cultures,” says Addario. “Then September 11 happened, so it was a very natural transition to then just cover the war in Afghanistan, because I was already very familiar with the region.”
After spending the next couple of years travelling back and forth to Afghanistan, it became clear that the West was turning its attention to the war in Iraq. “As an American I thought this is really going to be the story of our generation and I raised my hand to go,” says Addario. The decision marked her transition into a fully fledged war photographer, and she hasn’t looked back since.