Photojournalist James Nachtwey is considered by many to be the greatest war photographer of recent decades. He has covered conflicts and major social issues in more than 30 countries.


  1. Discuss the following:

Can documentary photography be more objective than journalists’ reports? Why/ Why not?

  1. Study the notes

IRA – the Irish Republican Army (an illegal organization that wants Northern Ireland to be politically independent of the UK and united with the Republic of Ireland, and that has fought for this aim with terrorism in the past)

Sandinista — member of Sandinista National Liberation Front, a Nicaraguan group that overthrew President Anastasio Somoza Debayle in 1979, ending 46 years of dictatorship by the Somoza family

«Commander Zero» – a nickname of  Edén Atanacio Pastora Gómez who was a Nicaraguan politician and guerrilla

Intifada — a violent act of opposition by the Palestinian people to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip


1.     Listen to the first part of the presentation (0:00 – 3:37) and put down the key words and expressions that are used to show how documentary photography serves the interests of society.

2.     Listen to the second part of the presentation (3:37 – 5:45) and take notes about how the photos of the following events are described by the speaker.

Northern Ireland,10 IRA prisoners starving themselves to death (1981)  
Guatemala,the central government waging a scorched Earth (выжженная земля) campaign against an indigenous population  
Southern Nicaragua, Commander Zero’s attack  
Managua,a destroyed tank belonging to Somoza’s national guard left as a monument  
El Salvador,a civil war   
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict,the beginning of the second intifada (2000)  
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict,the destruction of the Palestinian refugee camp (2001)  


  1. Answer the question:

 How does photography serve the interests of society?

In your answer, use the words and expressions from the Viewing Tasks above.

  1. Expand on the following statements made by James Nachtwey:
  • Documentary photography has the ability to interpret events from their point of view. It gives a voice to those who otherwise would not have a voice. And as a reaction, it stimulates public opinion and gives impetus to public debate, thereby preventing the interested parties from totally controlling the agenda, much as they would like to.
  • The press is certainly a business, and in order to survive it must be a successful business, but the right balance must be found between marketing considerations and journalistic responsibility.