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Lynsey Addario ’95

Through the lens of her camera, Lynsey Addario sees the harsh realities of war. Willing to take personal risks to tell the stories of soldiers and civilians living in international war zones, Addario’s photographs are often gritty and raw and help people better understand one another.

March 01, 2011

2008 Forward under 40 Award Honoree

UW Majors: International Relations and Italian
Age: 37 | New Delhi, India
Freelance Photojournalist

Through the lens of her camera, Lynsey Addario sees the harsh realities of war. Willing to take personal risks to tell the stories of soldiers and civilians living in international war zones, Addario's photographs are often gritty and raw and help people better understand one another.

Her work has been noticed: she received a 2010 MacArthur Fellowship for her photographic essays on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, including the struggle of children and women in male-dominated societies. She was awarded a 2009 Pulitzer Prize as part of The New York Times coverage of the war in Afghanistan and a 2008 Getty Images Grant for her continuing work in Darfur, Sudan. A regular contributor to The New York Times, Addario's work has also been featured in National Geographic, Newsweek, TIME, on PBS, and at exhibitions in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Montreal and Berlin.

Throughout the years of working in war zones, she has survived military ambushes, a kidnapping outside of Bagdad and a car crash in Pakistan that killed her driver. Yet, she remains hopeful and committed to her convictions.

"I meet people who inspire me every day," says Addario, "from the Afghan woman who has the courage to beg her father to go to (and stay in) school, to the Afghan nurses working for little salary around the clock to serve their people, to Hillary Clinton for being a great role model for women in America, to my friend, Joao Silva, a war photographer who recently lost both legs when he stepped on a landmine in Afghanistan while on assignment for The New York Times."

Addario remembers the UW-Madison campus as "large and diverse and filled with international students — a school that was equally fun and educational."

"I never studied photography [...] I incorporated my education in international relations and Italian into my career as an international photojournalist," she says. Her advice to graduating seniors would be "to do what your heart tells you to do."

Early in her career, a mentor at the Associated Press in New York told her to "be patient, look for the light, and wait for a moment. Throw away the flash," she recalls. "It really has shaped the way I work."

Addario's patience is our reward, as she continues to photograph stories of conflict, post-conflict and humanitarian crises around the world.

In her own words

What is your proudest UW achievement?

Graduating with the chicken pox

What music do you listen to?

At home: Marvin Gaye, Madeline Peyroux, Sia, Pink Martini. At the gym: Rihanna, Madonna, MIA. On the plane: Yo-Yo Ma, Norah Jones.

What occupies your free time?

I never have free time. If I am not on assignment, filing pictures or researching for a future assignment, I am editing, returning e-mail, jogging or sleeping!

What was your first job?

Making salads at a pizzeria in Connecticut when I was 13

What five items would you take to a desert island?

My Kindle, my camera, my husband, water, and vanilla macaroon cookies from PAUL bakery in France

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