War Through a Woman’s Eyes

There’s a great story in American Photo on female conflict photographers.

But being a woman can also prove an advantage. “I can slip behind lines where males can’t necessarily,” says Levine. During one long-term stint in a conflict zone, she recalls, “I would often just dress like the women. Male colleagues didn’t even recognize me. I would try to blend when possible.” She also gets a perspective on events that men seldom see. “I don’t want to say that women photograph differently, but sometimes our access draws us in differently,” she says. “If I’m in a room full of women mourning, especially Muslim women, I can stay with them longer. Being a woman allows me to embrace some of the intimate moments. I’m a female and I can enter the bedroom of a woman, whereas my male colleagues wouldn’t be able to do that.”

Being perceived as less intrusive or intimidating can also make it easier for women to move unobtrusively through the range of scenes in the theater of war. “You have to know how to weave in between all worlds,” Levine says. “You have to know how to behave, not only sitting on someone’s floor in a war zone or in a morgue, but meeting with high officials, moving in a motorcade, or riding on the back of a pickup truck with Libyan rebels on the front line.”

As for motherhood, Levine says it brings insight to her work. “Maybe I approach some of the situations I’m in differently because I am a mother, or I connect with women more easily in the field because I’m a mother as well,” she says. “I can imagine being in their shoes, God forbid, if I was on the other side of the camera. It’s a big part of me.” Having children also drives her to contribute to the effort to understand and resolve conflicts. “It draws me in closer and fuels my passion to do what I do,” she says, “because as much as I cover conflict, I hate conflict and war.”

Read the whole story here:War Through a Woman’s Eyes | American Photo.

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