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Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War by…

Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War

by Deborah Copaken Kogan

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as a feminist, jewish, photojournalist who is on the path to motherhood, this memoir resonated with me on many levels. (it is written by a feminist, jewish photojournalist who becomes a mother by the end. i think my star rating might be slightly biased for that reason. maybe objectively it should be a 3.)

this gave me a lot to think about, from why i photograph and what i photograph, to how to break into this industry (or not) and what sacrifices that would mean. what was really interesting was to see how it all worked years ago, how the photojournalist shooting in romania would get her film back to her paris office for next day publication, while staying in romania and continuing to shoot. (rushing between the action and the airport, finding someone flying to paris who will take her package of film and be met by her editor right outside customs, who rushes to develop the film and match the images with the captions she sent, that were written long after she shot the images.) i don't think i ever flirted with the idea of being a war photographer (except when looking at james nachtwey's images) but this confirmed for me that for personal and photographic reasons, i will never chase those stories.

my very first photo editor was surprised when he found that i could write intelligible captions, as apparently many photographers don't have the ability to write well. so it's worth it to point out that this book is well written and engaging from perspectives other than someone interested in photography.

"[I]t's not easy being a one-girl revolution. Not that it got any easier once I became a woman."

"Few things fascinate the French as much as stories about other countries' racism. I suppose it makes them feel better about their own." (something i felt was important for me to remember, as racism - usually other people's - is my main topic of conversation.) ( )
  elisa.saphier | Apr 2, 2013 |
Deborah Copaken Kogan graduated from Harvard in 1988 and plunged straight into the world of photojournalism. Like most fresh grads, reality is something college doesn’t prepare you for.

Living in Paris, she knocked on agency doors for an assignment. Within weeks, she was in Afghanistan with Pascal, a more senior photojournalist who promised that he would help get her into the thick of the war.

The book opens with her travelling in a group of mujahideen - rebel "freedom fighters", shortly after Pascal abandoned her, forcing her to make her own arrangements. So her short career in photojournalism begins, and they lead her into some very hairy situations, in parts of history that I was too young to care about at the time.

Kogan gives us a peek into the world of the photojournalist fraternity, a group dominated by men. For that reason, the book is broken down into six chapters that relates to a man in her life and career - starting with Pascal, who took her into her first war and ending with her son Jacob, who is the reason she decided to end her career.

Her memoirs, candid as it may be in some places, is eye-opening to those of us who have no idea how the international media works. It also hammers home the fact that it is sometimes necessary for journalists to lie, bribe and persuade so that their journey would not be for nothing, and they will bring back images that will help cover their expenses.

At one point of the book, Kogan described feeling like a vulture as she entered the scene to photograph an African poacher shot dead. There is, after all, no story without a dead body. Horrifying? That's the media industry.

Kogan's photographs have appeared in magazines such as Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times, her freelance writing in The New York Times, Paris Match, and O, the Oprah Magazine, and her television segments on ABC News and Dateline NBC.

(2006) ( )
  tarlia | Feb 20, 2008 |
Deborah Copaken Kogan is a woman in a man's world and she writes about it in the most cliched way possible. The opening scene features Kogan getting her period on assignment in Afghanistan and from there on out, she never stops whiny about the difficulties of being a woman. The book has a few good points, like Kogan's heartwrenching discovery of Romanian orphans living in squalor, but there aren't enough of these moments to redeem the whole book. ( )
1 vote cestovatela | Apr 10, 2007 |
This was a fantastic read. The memoirs of a war-journalist and her very own wars within. ( )
  girlsgonechild | Aug 30, 2006 |
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There's a war going on, and I'm bleeding.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375758682, Paperback)

Fresh out of college and passionate about photography, Deborah Copaken Kogan moved to Paris in 1988 and began knocking on photo agency doors, begging to be given a photojournalism assignment. Within weeks she was on the back of a truck in Afghanistan, the only woman—and the only journalist—in a convoy of mujahideen, the rebel “freedom fighters” at the time. She had traveled there with a handsome but dangerously unpredictable Frenchman, and the interwoven stories of their relationship and the assignment set the pace for Shutterbabe’s six chapters, each covering a different corner of the globe, each linked to a man in Kogan’s life at the time.

From Zimbabwe to Romania, from Russia to Haiti, Kogan takes her readers on a heartbreaking yet surprisingly hilarious journey through a mine-strewn decade, seamlessly blending her personal battles—sexism, battery, life-threatening danger—with the historical ones—wars, revolution, unfathomable suffering—it was her job to record.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:26 -0400)

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