Conflict Photographer vs. War Photographer: When the Term Began
As someone who loves the English language but hates change, I arch an eyebrow when I hear a new fangled phrase. Language is a continually shifting thing. At no point in history has English been a fixed language. At the very moment you might think it’s fixed, someone out there is creating a new phrase that will be recognized and spoken by millions a year from now. Here are some that sounded stupid at first, but I gradually came to see their usefulness:
Conflicts vs. Wars
War photographers have existed ever since there has been war and photography. But what is war? Is the U.S. at war with terrorists? What about North Korea? Even though the U.S. spends more lives, money, and energy fighting terrorists, we are not officially at war with them. Even though the U.S. is officially still at war with North Korea, relations between the two countries is quiet, more or less. Conflict photographer makes sense, because it covers a huge spectrum of activities where people kill each other.
Where It Began
The earliest mention of conflict photographer that I found was in relation to Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva’s The Bang Bang Club. A December 9, 2000 Indianapolis Star review of the book pulls a quote from their book:
I had become known as a conflict photographer. I could ask for assignments to almost any place, as long as people were killing each other.
Note on Image:
This photograph was taken by Hilda Clayton, a U.S. Army photographer who was killed July 2, 2013 when a mortar exploded in Afghanistan.