In 2004, the war in Iraq grew increasingly dangerous. The Associated Press found traditional photography virtually impossible. In response, AP’s Baghdad bureau recruited Iraqis, some of whom had never made pictures professionally, and trained them into world-class photojournalists. Their photos supplemented the work of AP’s existing staff. Together, their work captured hostilities from both sides.
“The most difficult aspect was the personal risk to the photographers,” said Chuck Zoeller, director of the AP photo library. “Insurgents attacked them as they headed to assignments. U.S. soldiers opened fire on them when they got too close to their checkpoints. One AP photojournalist had to move his family after radicals, angered by his images, threatened their lives. In some cases, AP removed bylines reading simply “stringer” to protect photographers from retaliation.”
The team of Bilal Hussein, Karim Kadim, Brennan Linsley, Jim MacMillian, Samir Mizban, Khalid Mohammed, John B. Moore, Muhammed Muheisen, Anja Niedringhaus, Murad Sezer and Mohommed Uraibi created iconic images from the war in 2004.
“The photo of U.S. contractors’ bodies hanging from the Fallujah bridge received much attention, as did the photo of a medic trying in vain to save the life of a wounded soldier,” said Zoeller. “Both photos generated significant comment, pro and con. The photo of U.S. Marines praying over the body of a dead fellow Marine was also published widely and was one of AP’s most requested photos of the year.”
“The images that stood out to us were heartbreaking,” judges said. “For example, the single image of the father lying next to the car seat made the final round because it hurt us to view it – one, single, incredible moment. The images gave us an honest sense of the war. Both sides were represented, and there were images, like the helmet in the window, that were surprises.”