James Nachtwey has dedicated his life to the documentation of wars, conflicts and critical social issues in some of the most ravaged and neglected corners of the planet. He studied government and art history at Dartmouth College, graduating in 1970. Deeply affected by images from the Vietnam War and the American Civil Rights Movement, he decided to become a photojournalist and taught himself photography.
His first overseas assignment came in 1981 during the IRA hunger strike in Northern Ireland. Since then he has photographed throughout the Middle East, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and Africa. Nachtwey documented the conditions imposed by apartheid and the struggle for liberation in South Africa, famines in Somalia and Sudan, genocide in Rwanda and the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. He was with Magnum from 1986 until 2001, when he became a founding member of the photography cooperative, VII.
He has received five Robert Capa Gold Medals, seven Magazine Photographer of the Year awards, two World Press Photo awards, the W. Eugene Smith Grant, the TED prize, the Heinz Award, the Dan David Prize, the Dresden Peace Prize, and five honorary doctorate degrees. Nachtwey has been a contract photographer with TIME since 1984.