The Tao of War Photography


| March 2009



Burma by Bill Haley

Guerrilla fighters near the Andaman Sea; Burma

Image by Bruce Haley

Veteran  photojournalist Bruce Haley  has seen the worst of us. He's covered conflicts stretching back to the Afghan battle against the Soviet Union. Ten years ago, he wrote something he called  The Tao of War Photography . It's part training manual and part memoir. It's mostly tragic and it's a little bit hilarious.

1. To begin with, practice this sentence: “If I get out of here alive, I’ll never do this again.” You’ll say this to yourself every single time an already dangerous situation really turns to shit.

2. It’s true that photography can save your life. The big dent in the front of my F3 would have been an entry hole in my face.

3. As a general rule, people really don’t catapult ten feet into the air whenever an artillery round explodes near them, despite what Hollywood war movies show you.

4. Big jungle foliage makes acceptable toilet paper in an emergency, though it’s rather lacking in the absorbency department.

5. The editors of the major magazines really don’t give a rat’s ass about the latest war and famine in the hinterlands of East BurkinaTimorLanka. You’ll never get an assignment to cover this unless Leonardo DiCaprio becomes a rebel commander and Tommy Hilfiger designs his battle fatigues.