‘This is What I Do’ Lynsey Addario’s Story

Lynsey Addario is a photojournalist who exemplifies the work ethic needed to succeed in any competitive career. As a photojournalist, she learned at an early stage that photography was a medium to tell a story.

In March 2011, while on assignment for The New York Times in Libya, she and her three fellow journalists were captured by soldiers in Muammar el-Qaddafi and held for six days before being released.

In her new book ‘It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War’ published earlier that month, Ms. Addario writes in the Prelude: “That day in Libya I asked myself the questions that still haunt me: Why do you do this work? Why do you risk your life for a photograph?… The truth is that few of us are born into this work. It is something we discover accidentally, something that happens gradually. We get a glimpse of this unusual life and this extraordinary profession, and we want to keep doing it, no matter how exhausting, stressful, or dangerous it becomes. It is the way we make a living, but it feels more like a responsibility, or a calling. It makes us happy, because it gives us a sense of purpose…”

Ms. Addario developed an interest in photography when her father gave her a camera at the age of 13, not realizing at the time that this gift would lead toward a career.

Her story is one of hard work, proving her talent in a profession still dominated by men. In an excerpt from book published in The New York Times Magazine, she describes the attitude among the four captured journalists: “Each one of us knew that this work was an intrinsic part of who we were: it was what we believed in; it governed our lives.”

Describing her life: “Leaving at the last minute, jumping on planes, feeling a responsibility to cover wars and famines and human rights crises was my job. To stop doing those things would be like firing myself.”

This is a personal story about adventure, family and tradeoffs. The art and humanity of her photography appears throughout. It’s a book about work and life and balance.

Most of us do not risk our lives each day covering international conflicts, getting in close to capture the truth in a photograph. Reading her story, we learn her answer to the question and we are left to ask ourselves: Why do you do this work?

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