Photographer James Nachtwey has spent his professional life in the places people most want to avoid: war zones and refugee camps, the city flattened by an earthquake, the village swallowed by a flood, the farm hollowed out by famine. Now marking his 30th year with TIME, Jim has seen and shared every manner of suffering, including the sudden shattering of 9/11, one of the rare days that Jim was actually at his home in lower Manhattan and could grab his cameras and do what he always does: run into the fire.
There is a particular art to capturing the places where pain presides. Pain is the most private experience, but its causes, whether natural or man-made, demand public accounting. It’s exactly when you want to look the other way that Jim’s images bring you back, command attention and invite understanding. In this week’s issue he explores the refugee crisis triggered by the war in Syria; more than 2 million people have fled, mainly into Jordan and Lebanon, and more than half of them are children. “I’ve seen refugee camps where people are starving, or where there is no access to clean water and thousands die from cholera,” Jim says. “In Za’atari, people are provided with everything they need to survive. The heavier burden is psychological–how to deal with loss, trauma, despair and an uncertain future.”
A Massachusetts native and graduate of Dartmouth, Jim worked on ships in the merchant marine and as a truck driver while he taught himself photography. His assignments for TIME have taken him around the world multiple times, from El Salvador and Nicaragua to Bosnia and Kosovo, Somalia, Rwanda, Gaza, India, Iraq and Afghanistan. We will be featuring Jim’s work in print and online throughout the year as we mark this milestone.
Nancy Gibbs, MANAGING EDITOR
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We interviewed burger historians and experts (hello, dream job!) to rank the 17 most influential burgers of all time. Among the listees: the Ramen Burger (No. 12), the Whopper (No. 5) and the White Castle Slider (No. 1), which was the first patty to spawn a fast-food empire. For the full list, visit time.com/burgers.
NOW ON LIGHTBOX
Two decades after documenting Kurdish refugees returning to their homeland, photojournalist Ed Kashi lifts the veil on Syria’s youngest refugees, who account for some 7,000 of the country’s 130,000 deaths since 2011. To see the 15-minute documentary Kashi co-directed with filmmaker Julie Winokur on Syria’s vulnerable “lost generation,” go to lightbox.time.com.
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This appears in the February 03, 2014 issue of TIME.
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