The war in Afghanistan has attracted many interested parties and photographer David Guttenfelder is one of them. He traveled to remote countries such as North Korea numerous times but also been to Afghanistan over 20 times since the 2001 US-Led invasion. His main aim here was to document the war and pinpoint its effects on the country’s development and growth. Guttenfelder got in the limelight when he captured a photo of a Marine in Pink Boxers shooting at the enemy.
A little about David Guttenfelder
David Guttenfelder is known as an award-winning photojournalist. His main focus is on global geopolitics and conversations. He’s the chief Asia photographer for The Associated Press, scaling up to a leading position thanks to his exceptional photography skills. Guttenfelder manages to make even the most obvious and something repelling things on the battlefield become aesthetically pleasing and appealing. This is all inspired by the photographer’s inborn sense of light and composition. With his precision in photography, David Guttenfelder has grown to the ranks of fellow iconic photographers.
Guttenfelder’s work in Afghanistan
The story behind Guttenfelder’s pink boxers photo
He became very famous after photographing an American soldier wearing pink boxers. During an assignment in Afghanistan in 2009, Guttenfelder took several pictures of the Korengal Valley of soldiers. They came to the surprise of many that would expect a conventional composition of soldiers under fire. Instead, his pictures showed exactly what is happening in Afghanistan that people from other corners of the world wouldn’t know. The photo shows specialist Zachary Boyd right after running out of bed. He wears a red T-Shirt and a pink boxer while returning fire to insurgents fighters. What comes as a simple thing later comes to reveal Zachary’s love for New York. The pink Boxer had a logo that says I Love NY.
This photo got the solder to the attention of the US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who later commented with a message that gave his soldiers morale. Any solder that goes to fight insurgents in Pink Boxers and flip-flops has a special kind of courage.
If you pay closer attention to the photo, you will realize that the soldier on the left has also run from a sort of activity. He is wearing silver trainers. You can imagine the impact of the war that transpires across a pretty little valley bisected by a river flowing through the outcrops. It may seem like a moment of firing, but upon closer inspection, the enemy remains invisible.
The photo is somewhat unsettling. You can imagine the transition from the comfort of being in bed to running to the battle with an enemy that knows the area well. This is what makes Boyd look more human than his fellows that are in full combat and ready for the war.
On another trip, David carried a recently purchased iPhone to Afghanistan, which he used to capture a photo that caught the eyes of many. Most of the people were mesmerized by the quality and the content of the picture. The images themselves were very clear and gave the exact details of the mundane lives soldiers are living in Afghanistan. Some photos include a photo of a comb, ride poppies, a makeshift urinal and flea-bitten skin of fellow journalists.
The challenges of his work conditions
This photographer risked a lot to capture some of the photos, showing the existing conditions of both civilians and soldiers. Once, he even climbed and sat in a branch of a leafless tree to avoid the rocks that were being rocketed by the supporters of Benazir Bhutto to the police. We know that still people in Afghanistan, including civilians, soldiers, and insurgents, are being injured and killed every single day.
Calling David the photographer behind the man in the pink Boxer is like underestimating his abilities and shunning the importance of his work. I bet you can already understand the risk it takes to come to this extent. David is there with the soldiers every minute and at the same time relating with soldiers and marines in combat or patrols. It’s also challenging for him because he undergoes emotional and physical trials and, at the same time, enduring deprivation or isolation.
Guttenfelder on being on the battlefield
In an interview, David said that some people are looking at the conflict often from a 30,000 feet level. For photographers, there’s no other way to look at war other than being on the battlefield and taking photos of the bullets as they hit and kill. He said that the closer you are to the target, the more precise the shot.
He also shared that soldiers are now taking more photos and videos of themselves. They email them home or even post them on their social media accounts. In most other situations, they usually set up little point-and-shoot video cameras in the middle of their gunfights with the enemy. However, the photos they typically take are just to show the lives they live. This is the main reason why David decided to venture in and get some clear shots of those kinds of real life.