“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”

That’s a quote from the legendary Robert Capa, and it appears at the beginning of “War Photographer,” which is a documentary about Jim Nachtwey, whose life and ideas are no less stunning than the beautifully grim pictures that have made him famous in the world of news photography. The film uses, to great advantage, footage from micro-cameras attached to Nachtwey’s cameras, so that you see what he was seeing in the field, and you see him as he was seeing these things. It’s a hall-of-mirrors effect that is remarkable, as are the first 15 minutes of the movie, in which you watch Nachtwey but don’t hear a word from him, and it doesn’t matter, because the editing is so sharp. For portfolios of Nachtwey’s work, click here for his WTC photos and here for his international photos. And for a short essay I wrote about his latest book, click here.

Author: Peter Maass

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. In 1983, after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, I went to Brussels as a copy editor for The Wall Street Journal/Europe. I left the Journal in 1985 to write for The New York Times and The International Herald Tribune, covering NATO and the European Union. In 1987 I moved to Seoul, South Korea, where I wrote primarily for The Washington Post. After three years in Asia I moved to Budapest to cover Eastern Europe and the Balkans. I spent most of 1992 and 1993 covering the war in Bosnia for the Post.