NEW YORK, NY.- Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer James Hill of The New York Times tells the stories behind fifty of his photographs, describing the artistic and emotional choices formed by the intense kaleidoscope of those experiences. From the invasion of Iraq in 2003 to the Royal Wedding in 2011, from taking the first portrait of the notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout to the death of Pope John Paul II, Hill has witnessed some of recent historys most poignant moments. His accounts evoke the complicated balance between professional detachment and personal involvement and reflect on the weight of watching history in its extremes.
»When I set out on this photographic life, I was eager to see to anything and everything. I wanted to capture the worlds joys and follies, indifferent as to whether I portrayed hope or sorrow, embracing both with equal curiosity. Yet, over time, a darkness began to encroach. The moments of violence hardened me without my realising, returning me a stranger to those I loved. I could still marvel at the infinite whiteness of the Arctic or the golden warmth of an Italian afternoon, but in my dreams, again and again, I would find myself being pulled to an edge beyond which there was nothing. I would fall and fall before waking in my bed or sleeping bag, soaked in sweat and startled to be alive.
It takes a far finer balance than I ever imagined to live with the past, just as it does to stand, physically and emotionally, in a scene, knowing what to watch and when to move. These images, circulating like old slides on a Kodak carousel, have become ingrained in my consciousness; the more powerful the image, the deeper its hold. I am caught between the duty to remember and the desire to erase.
My photographs remind me not only where Ive been but also what it has taken for me to get home again. For each journey between the familiar and those places where life and death are weighed on another set of scales is a voyage through an emotional no-mans-land, somewhere between war and peace.« James Hill