Ben Lowy

  • Aired:  12/05/11
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War photographer Ben Lowy talks about his travels to the most dangerous places in the world. (7:13)

>> Jon: MY GUEST TONIGHT IS A

PHOTOGRAPHER.

HIS PHOTOS FROM HIS MANY TRIPS

TO IRAQ ARE DISPLAYED IN HIS

NEW BOOK, IRAQ PERSPECTIVES.

PLEASE WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM

BEN LOWY.

( APPLAUSE )

SO THIS IS A SELECTION OF OR A

COLLECTION OF PHOTOGRAPHS FROM

IRAQ FROM THE YEARS....

>> 2003 TO 2008.

>> Jon: HOW MANY TIMES DID YOU

GO TO IRAQ TO COLLECT THESE

PHOTOGRAPHS THROUGH THOSE

YEARS?

>> WAY TOO MANY.

MORE THAN MY WIFE WOULD HAVE

LIKED.

>> Jon: THAT MANY TIMES.

LET ME TELL YOU HOW THIS

HAPPENED.

SO WE DID THIS ROLLING STONE

PIECE.

THEY SAID, OH, WE'RE GOING TO

SEND OVER THIS PHOTOGRAPHER.

HE'S JUST GOING TO HANG OUT

WITH YOU GUYS FOR A DAY AND

TAKE SOME PICTURES.

WE THOUGHT, OKAY, WE'LL ROUGH

HIM UP A LITTLE BIT.

THIS GUY SHOWS UP.

WHERE WERE YOU BEFORE THIS?

WHERE WAS IT?

>> LIBYA.

>> Jon: YEAH, THAT'S RIGHT.

>> I GET AROUND.

>> Jon: YOU GET AROUND.

SO WE GO, WHO ARE YOU?

IT TURNS OUT YOU HAVE BEEN

TRAVELING TO THESE... YOU'RE A

PHOTOGRAPHER THAT TRAVELS TO

THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACES IN

THE WORLD.

>> THOSE AND OTHER PLACES.

I MEAN I'VE DONE MY SHARE.

I'VE DONE THE SPORTS

ILLUSTRATED SWIM SUIT SHOOT.

>> Jon: DID YOU TAKE ANY

SHRAPNEL THERE?

>> IT WASN'T NECESSARILY

SHRAPNEL.

>> Jon: THEY TELL ME IT'S VERY

DIFFICULT FOR THEM TO STAND

SOMETIMES IN THE POOLS OF

WATER ARE NOT AS WARM AS YOU

WOULD THINK.

>> IT CAN BE TOUGH WITH THE

LIGHT AND THE SUNTAN LOTION,

YEAH.

>> Jon: I UNDERSTAND.

TELL ME WHAT... I JUST WANT TO

SHOW SOME OF THESE.

THE SELECTION OF PICTURES...

THESE ARE ALL THROUGH HUMVEE

WINDOWS.

CAN YOU CUT TO THAT?

DO WE HAVE ONE?

IT'S THROUGH A HUMVEE WINDOW.

THE ORANGE POST-IT IS NOT

ACTUALLY PART OF THE BOOK.

>> I WAS WONDERING ABOUT THAT.

>> Jon: IS THAT CENTRAL PARK

IN BAGHDAD?

WHAT IS THAT?

>> THAT IS ACTUALLY A

RESIDENCY BUILDING FOR LIKE

THE BASICALLY THE MINISTRY OF

PRISONS AND INTERIOR WHERE

LAWYERS AND INVESTIGATORS LIVE

BUT IT WAS ONE OF THE FIRST

IMAGES I MADE WHEN I THOUGHT

OF THIS IDEA OF PHOTOGRAPHING

IRAQ THROUGH HUMVEE WINDOWS.

BUT IT'S AMAZING THAT WHEN YOU

LOOK AROUND IRAQ AT THE TIME

IT'S ALL WIRE.

ALL THIS FREEDOM WE SAY WE

BROUGHT TO THE IRAQI PEOPLE.

AT THE SAME TIME THE PEOPLE

PASSED A LAW IN THEIR COUNTRY

TO HIDE BEHIND THESE GLASS

WALLS.

>> Jon: THAT'S INTERESTING.

WERE THE IRAQIS RESENTFUL OF

THE BLAST WALLS AND THOSE THAT

WERE AROUND THEM?

>> NOT THE GUY WHO HAS THE

CONTRACT TO MAKE THE BLAST

WALLS.

ACTUALLY DIRECTLY BEHIND

THAT... I DID HAVE THE

OPPORTUNITY TO GET OUT OF THE

CAR AND GO TO THE OTHER SIDE.

RIGHT ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE

BLAST WALLS WAS LIKE A SWING

SET.

WHERE LIKE, YOU KNOW, KIDS

WERE PLAYING BECAUSE PEOPLE

LIVE THERE.

>> Jon: IT'S INTERESTING

BECAUSE YOU WERE TELLING ME...

WHEN I WENT TO AFGHANISTAN, I

WENT SURROUNDED BY MILITARY

PERSONNEL WITH GUNS.

I WAS WEARING A FLAK JACKET.

I ASKED YOU, YOU KNOW, YOU

SAID YOU WERE GOING TO

AFGHANISTAN.

HOW ARE YOU GETTING THERE?

IT WAS LIKE I'M WALKING.

LIKE IT WAS SOME CRAZY....

>> AFGHANISTAN IS A DIFFERENT,

SORT OF A DIFFERENT BALLGAME.

AFTER SO MANY YEARS IN IRAQ

EMBEDDING WITH U.S. SOLDIERS

THE LAST FIVE YEARS THAT I'VE

WORKED IN AFGHANISTAN I'VE

NEVER BEEN WITH U.S. SOLDIERS.

I JUST KIND OF GO ON MY OWN.

IT'S A DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE TO

SEE IT FROM THE OTHER SIDE.

I WOULD SAY IN AFGHANISTAN

IT'S A LOT EASIER TO WORK ON

THE STREET OR WITH AFGHANS

WITHOUT THE PROTECTION OF

NATO.

>> Jon: REALLY?

>> I GREW UP IN NEW YORK IN

THE '80s.

>> Jon: THAT'S NOT THE SAME

THING.

I LIVED HERE IN THE '0s.

HAVING A GUY TRY TO SELL YOU

SOMETHING BY THE PARK IS NOT

THE SAME AS BEING IN

AFGHANISTAN.

LOOK AT THIS.

THIS IS ANOTHER PICTURE FROM

IRAQ THAT I WANTED TO SHOW.

I DON'T KNOW IF YOU CAN GET

THAT.

IT'S A WOMAN... THE THING I

THOUGHT WAS INTERESTING HERE

IS NOT THE EGGS BUT RIGHT NOW

TO HER.

THAT WHITE BLOCK.

WHAT IS THAT?

>> THAT IS ICE.

IT WAS SORT OF AMAZING.

I ENDED UP RESEARCHING IT.

THERE ISN'T A LOT OF

ELECTRICITY IN IRAQ.

SOME IN BAGHDAD.

MAYBE FOUR HOURS A DAY.

PEOPLE DON'T HAVE FREEZERS.

YOU HAVE TO GO BUY YOUR ICE.

FROM A STORE.

THERE ARE ACTUALLY FACTORIES

FOR MAKING ICE THAT PEOPLE GO

GET A SLICE OF.

IT'S SOMETHING THAT WE ARE NOT

USED TO IN THE WEST THAT WE

DON'T UNDERSTAND.

IT WAS REALLY REVEALING.

>> Jon: I PUSH A CUP INTO MY

REFRIGERATOR.

WHEN THAT DOESN'T WORK, I

CURSE THE HEAVENS.

DID YOU SEE IMPROVEMENT DURING

YOUR TIME THERE?

DID YOU SEE THINGS CHANGE?

>> DEFINITELY THINGS CHANGED.

I MEAN, THE 2004 TO 2007 WAS

HELLISH.

BUT THEN IN 2008 THINGS, YOU

KNOW, WERE STARTING TO GET

BETTER.

>> Jon: YOU KEPT GOING.

>> YEAH.

>> Jon: BECAUSE YOU'RE NUTS.

WE TALKED ABOUT THIS EARLIER.

>> THAT I'M NUTS?

>> Jon: YEAH.

>> MY WIFE THINKS SO.

>> Jon: LOOK AT THIS ONE.

THIS IS THROUGH THE NIGHT

VISION.

THAT'S A GENTLEMAN WHO I

BELIEVE IS JUST SAYING, OH, MY

GOSH, I DIDN'T KNOW YOU WERE

GOING TO TAKE MY PICTURE.

I WOULD HAVE SHOWERED.

>> WELL, I WAS WITH A UNIT

GOING OUT BASICALLY WHEN THE

SUNNI AWAKENING BEGAN AS THE

ORGANIZATION LIKE, THEY

BASICALLY USED INFORMANTS.

AT SOME POINT THESE GUYS WOULD

GO OUT WITH U.S. SOLDIERS AND

SAY WE KNOW WHO THE BAD GUYS

ARE.

THEY WOULD PICK OUT PEOPLE IN

DIFFERENT NEIGHBORHOODS.

THIS IS SOUTH OF BAGHDAD.

THEY WENT OUT TO A RAID TO

DIFFERENT VILLAGES.

THEY WOULD BE JUST LIKE, OH,

THAT GUY, HE LIKES AL QAEDA.

I THINK THEY WERE JUST TRYING

TO SELL THEMSELVES.

THIS IS A GUY WHO IS JUST

BASICALLY SLEEPING IN A

MECHANIC'S SHOP OUTSIDE.

IT WAS 120 DEGREES DURING THE

DAY.

MOST PEOPLE SLEEP OUTSIDE AT

NIGHT BECAUSE THERE'S NO

ELECTRICITY FOR AIR

CONDITIONING.

THEY JUST WOKE HIM UP AND JUST

ARRESTED HIM.

HE'S JUST TOTALLY SLEEPING.

>> Jon: YOU'RE JUST BEHIND

THEM WITH A CAMERA LIKE

(SNAPPING) DO YOU HAVE A

FLASH?

>> NO.

THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT OF THE

NIGHT VISION.

>> Jon: NOW TO BE FAIR TO YOUR

WIFE WHO YOU KEEP SAYING, WHAT

DOES YOUR WIFE DO FOR A LIVE

SOMETHING.

>> SAME THING.

>> Jon: IRAQ PERSPECTIVE.

WHAT YOU DO IS UNBELIEVABLE.

YOU KNOW THAT.

YOU KNOW HOW ANGRY WE WERE

WITH YOU THAT WHOLE DAY.

HE WAS JUST HANGING OUT WITH

US AND THE WHOLE TIME HE WAS

JUST TAKING PICTURES GOING,

"THESE GUYS ARE SUCH PUSSIES."

>> I DID IT FOR THE SCHWAG.

I REALLY LIKE THE BARBECUE

COLOGNE.

>> Jon: (LAUGHING) THERE'S

MORE WHERE THAT CAME FROM.

IRAQ PERSPECTIVES ON THE BOOK

SHELVES NOW.

WHAT IS THE NEXT PLACE YOU'RE

TRAVEL TO GO.

>> TO HAITI IN A COUPLE OF

DAYS.

>> Jon: A VACATION.

TROPICAL.

YOU'LL HAVE A GOOD TIME.

IT'S NICE.

TAKING THE WIFE?

BEN LOWY.

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