Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War” as Want to Read:
It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  9,795 ratings  ·  1,210 reviews
MacArthur Genius Grant winner Lynsey Addario's relentless pursuit of complex truths drive this heart-pounding and inspirational memoir of a photographer's life.

Lynsey Addario was just finding her way as a young photographer when the events of September 11, 2001, changed the world. One of the few photojournalists with experience in Afghanistan, she gets the call to return a
Audio CD, 1 page
Published February 5th 2015 by Blackstone Audiobooks
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about It's What I Do, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Zoë When I was about ten years old I read John Hersey's Hiroshima. Was I too young to read about inhuman cruelty? I doubt it. I have a distinct memory of …moreWhen I was about ten years old I read John Hersey's Hiroshima. Was I too young to read about inhuman cruelty? I doubt it. I have a distinct memory of reading it in the quiet golden evening light of my parents' bed, by myself.

I wouldn't restrict my daughter, who is now 29, to reading what she felt drawn to as she grew up, but I might read it aloud with her, or parallel to her reading, and discuss what it brought up. Your daughter is now 14 since you posted this two years ago...perhaps she read it and is more informed, better for it and more compassionate.

The book brings up the issue of assault and possible rape. It is important for young, preteen, pubescent girls to know what these actions are and how to protect themselves.

I hope you found your way through this with your daughter.(less)
Shaily You don't miss any of the story by listening to the audio, but the print version does have some correlating pictures. I borrowed both from my library …moreYou don't miss any of the story by listening to the audio, but the print version does have some correlating pictures. I borrowed both from my library - listened to the audio on my commute and skimmed through the photos in the evening at home. (less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,795 ratings  ·  1,210 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War
Will Byrnes
“Sahafi! Media!! He yelled to the soldiers. He opened the car door to get out, and Quadaffi’s soldiers swarmed around him. “Sahafi!”
In one fluid movement the doors flew open and Tyler, Steve, and Anthony were ripped out of the car. I immediately locked my door and buried my head in my lap. Gunshots shattered the air. When I looked up, I was alone. I knew I had to get out of the car to run for cover, but I couldn’t move.

Lynsey Addario - from CBS News

You may not recognize the name L
May 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
I took time with this wonderful, strong autobiography, reading a few pages/day trying to fully immerse myself in her story and her pictures. I am usually a fast reader and I tend to forget a lot from what I am reading and I did not want it to be the case with this one. As a consequence the review is also quite long, probably the longest I have ever written.


Lynsey Addario is and American photojournalist, one of the best at her job. She was member of a team that won the Pulizer prize for a story
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always admired journalists who cover wars. After reading It's What I Do, I have a better appreciation for just how difficult it is for writers and photographers to report in areas of conflict.

Lynsey Addario has had an amazing career as a photojournalist. She's covered conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Darfur, and dozens of other places. She's been kidnapped twice. She's been hunkered down with soldiers during battle. She's had tea with members of the Taliban. The girl gets around.

How many times have I mindlessly flipped through the glossy images of a magazine in a waiting room? Too many times...but never with the realization I have now. I will never look at a photograph of conflict and war the same way again.

It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War documents Lynsey Addario’s experiences as a combat journalist. This memoir presents more of a story than just what she has viewed through her camera though. It also documents her experience as a woman working in
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I so rarely read nonfiction, but this book has me wondering whether I might really be missing out! Addario tells her own story, but in a broader sense that of journalists everywhere, the struggles they face and the rewards, too. We rely so much on journalists, but I have to admit, I do not very often think about where my news is coming from, and especially who took that striking/shocking/unforgettable photo. "It's What I Do" tells a thoughtful and insightful story and for people wary of dry nonf ...more
Lynsey Addario has been a war photographer for at least the past two decades. She has won numerous awards and recognition, including the Pulitzer Prize and a MacArthur Prize, for her work. In this memoir she talks of her development from taking photos to being a Photographer. The experience of reading this book left me so grateful….”grateful for your service,” I suppose. That there are people willing and able to do this kind of work, I am forever grateful. It can be fulfilling and exciting but i ...more
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Gotta say, even as a photography enthusiast who at one point wanted to be a photojournalist... I have a whole new respect for the field after reading this memoir. I wasn't familiar with Lynsey Addario's work before reading this, but I was completely overwhelmed by both her passion & her determination for her work while reading this book.

I'd never realized the full extent of what a war photojournalist goes through to get information to the rest of us. Although I'd heard of journalists being
Addario has truly earned and, in that sense, enjoyed a remarkable career, lived a life filled with impressive achievements, and taken extraordinary risks, some of which unsurprisingly led to harrowing, painful, and devastating experiences. Her travels, work, and sacrifices are truly extraordinary.

Alas, I found myself constantly frustrated with the book, but I expect that all of my critiques and irritations were self-imposed (and, thus, accordingly, may not distract other readers). The title is e
Emma Scott
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely fascinating with enough detail to put you there but not so much as to feel overwhelmed. Deeply humanistic touch to the prose only added to its awesomeness, as did the feminine perspective which made the dangerous locales potentially more sinister.
For someone researching what it's like to be a war photojournalist, this book couldn't have been more perfect, but a highly compelling read even to the casual reader. Loved it.
Feb 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
my own prelude I borrowed this book from my public library. It was purchased with gift funds from our First Selectwoman, Carmen Vance. Carmen started this fund when I worked at Saxton B. Little Free Library, Columbia, CT. I am thankful to see that it continues to add books by, and about women’s issues.

The Hook - Memoir allows me to see other people’s worlds, their lives, their hopes, their dreams. These moments of their lives shared in the pages of a book inspire and amaze me, enhancing my own.
This was a good read, as one might expect a journalist to be capable of competent writing. Addario certainly found herself in some hair-raising situations and is undoubtedly fortunate to have escaped with life and limb intact, a bit of good fortune that, sadly, was not enjoyed by all of her employees. The fact that she is a woman opened doors for her that would have been closed to male journalists, and she has thereby been able to add to our knowledge of the circumstances of women in the Middle ...more
Megan Edwards
Feb 12, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had to give this up after about 150 pages, which kills me just a little bit to do. But I just couldn't take the author's politics anymore. I expected to hear fascinating stories about being a photojournalist in some very scary and perilous situations. And there was some of that. But there were too many political asides. I get it - you're against the war on terror. Do you have to belabor that every chance you get? She didn't go in depth on the good stuff either - I felt like I was basically rea ...more
Linda Hart
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! This is a journalist's absolutely fascinating memoir. I have great admiration and respect for Lynsey Addario, the author, and am stunned by her unbelievable experiences and frank reporting. I loved it. It reads like a novel and includes many of her fabulous photos that bring her words to life. I am pretty certain a movie was made about this. Highly recommend. ...more
Aug 07, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

I wasn't sure why this book wasn't sitting well with me as I read it until I came across this quote close to the end:
"Journalism is a selfish profession."

That's the issue I had with this book.  Throughout most of it I felt like the author had little to no empathy for the people whose lives she was invading.  She was there to document their suffering and to get the best picture.  She talks a lot about how stressful her job was and I'm sure it was but she also talks about how she made sure that s
This riveting memoir will change the way I look at photographs forever. Years of appreciation for the glossy pages in National Geographic, or the special magazine insert of the newspaper, as well as the online galleries attached to major new stories - but did I really stop to think about what went into even *obtaining* this photograph in the first place? More than a passing thought, unfortunately not.

Lynsey Addario, an American conflict photojournalist, has changed that.

The book begins with a ha
Photojournalist Lynsey Addario remembers a decade on the frontline of conflicts in the Middle East and Africa and strives for balance in her work and personal life.

Addario was raised by hairdressers in Connecticut and studied international relations. Her photography hobby soon became an obsession. As a freelance photographer for the New York Times and National Geographic, she has lived in Argentina, Mexico, India and Turkey and crafted photo essays on New York’s transgender prostitutes, Congo’s
Harriet Levin
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am super excited to read this book because Lynsey Addario allowed me to use a photo she took for the cover of my novel, How Fast Can You Run. ( She is a truly a generous person, and in a field dominated by ego. Her work is breathtaking and the photo she allowed me to use has made the cover of my book truly stunning, like owning a work of art. My cover shows a S. Sudanese boy trying to find his mother in the bogs near Bor, S. Sudan in 2013. It is a heart ...more
I don't remember where I first heard about this memoir but I knew straightaway that I'd be interested in hearing more (as I enjoyed the audio book read by Tavia Gilbert) about Lynsey Addario's life as a photojournalist in conflict and war zones. The journalists in war zones are often the forgotten heroes as they put their lives at risk to report to the wider public what is going on. As we read a newspaper or a magazine we take it for granted that there are visuals accompanying the latest news st ...more
Journalism is a selfish profession but I still believe in power of its purpose and hoped my family too

Taliban fighters near the Afghan border, 2008 (part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning series) (Lynsey Addario/Getty Images Reportage)

Three months after I was born, a war began between Iran and Iraq which lasted for 8 years. I still remember most of those years. I was young and I didn’t live in the cities close to border but still there were bombings, I remember horror of loud sound of red alarm broadcasted through streets by loudspeakers and then calmness brought by hearing green alarm. Still this book showed me much more ab
Daniel Simmons
Five stars for the photographs (brilliant, haunting, gritty, inspiring), but this isn't a photo essay, it's a memoir, and I just wasn't particularly impressed with the writing. (A few times I found myself wishing that one of her journalistic colleagues, like Dexter Filkins, had written a biography of her instead, with Addario's incomparable photos included.) And so while I admire Addario's artistic eye, appreciate her attempt to personalize an incredibly tough job that many newspaper and magazin ...more
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lynsey Addario is an award winning photojournalist who has covered Afganistan under the Taliban, multiple wars, and a variety of other events. This book is her memoir. In it she discusses her development as a photographer and her experiences covering war zones. She was captured twice and was one of 4 New York Times journalists who went missing in Libya in March of 2011. She won a MacArther Fellowship and a Pulitzer Prize in 2009. She discusses all of these events in the book.

I really enjoyed thi
Feb 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I was really intrigued by the title loving both photojournalism and travel. The strength of this book is her focus on women, and the difficulty of needing to prove herself in a field dominated by men.She artfully discusses how her gender has affected every aspect of balancing her personal and professional life. . Her travelogue explores the exhilarating and demanding aspects of her job showcasing her risky adventures from being beaten, hiking long hours without water with sniper fire abounding, ...more
Olena Rosul
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
* I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads (Giveaways). *

This book is about a woman photographer who captured war and its consequences for civilians in many contries—Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Libya, ans so on.

It is not an easy reading. It is disturbing in many ways. But it is one of the books that must be written and must be read. Because on the very same planet we live, people DO keep killing each other in meaningless wars, and people DO keep suffering from famine, lack of cle
Nov 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars only because I am feeling stingy with my 5 star ratings. This is truly an excellent book! Memoirs, as most people know, can be hit or miss. Many (most?) lives aren't really that interesting and the authors need to stretch a bit to entertain. Addario's life fascinated me on two different fronts (pun intended). First, her fundamental nomadic and rootless nature was so foreign to my personality that it captivated me. How could anyone just pick up and move to Mexico, South America, Pakista ...more
When I was in high school, I took a photography class. I began to see the world differently, and for a while, I entertained the idea of being a photojournalist, without really understanding what it meant. But I love National Geographic and I was saddened when Life stop producing a monthly publication. And why is this relevant? Because Addario's depiction of traveling the world and capturing the tumultuous landscape of war gives me a true sense of what life is like as a photojournalist.

Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wow. As someone who studied photography and for a brief period considering pursuing my own career as a war photographer- I'm in awe of the casual fearlessness Addario frequently displayed when obstacles and combatants got in the way of her job. More than once she describes her thought process when threatened or held hostage and after worrying about the stress her predicament is going to put on her family, her next concern is where her memory cards are and if her captors take her equipment she mu ...more
Miranda Lynn
It's What I Do is being turned into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence, directed by Steven Spielberg!!!

Easily one of the best nonfiction books I've ever read!

Lynsey's story immediately intrigued me, and I had a very hard time putting this book down. That doesn't happen a lot for me when it comes to the nonfiction genre, so I was very impressed with how well written this was and how interesting her life has been.

Being a war photographer has absolutely no appeal to me personally. And Addario's boo
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sarah by: Carol
I want to thank Carol for bringing this book to my attention. It was fascinating to read the story of a female war photographer.

I started college as photography major. With the confidence of a know-it-all 18-year-old, I was confident that I would lead an exciting life and travel to where the action was as a New York Times, Washington Post, AP or National Geographic photographer. Things did not turn out as I imagined, but that is a good thing. I have a great job that I love and photography is a w
Sarju Shrestha Mehri
What an amazing book. I love reading memoirs. The writer Lyndsey Addario , a war photo journalist not only shares her exquisite pictures but shares her experience as a woman who captured many stories of war in Afghanistan, Libya, Darfur, Iraq and culture of violence against women in Congo.

Her drive to capture the effects of war up close and personal through her lenses is riveting. Each of her pictures tells the story of truth, honesty and clarity. As you read each chapter, you will be familiar w
Greg Davis
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some describe memoirs as often narcissistic, maybe too liberal use of "I". But that's what they are, personal words about one's life, necessarily subjective. For me, I love them, mostly because I enjoy hearing people freely go on about themselves, what's important to them, how they see the world. To the point, this book was exceptional, in that Ms. Addario spent little time trying to present herself as anyone save who she is, a seasoned, successful professional, driven by an involuntary passion, ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: It's What I Do - Addario - 5 stars 9 13 Jun 30, 2018 02:57PM  
Play Book Tag: It's What I Do by Lynsey Addario 4 stars 4 16 Aug 10, 2017 04:58PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid
  • On All Fronts: The Education of a Journalist
  • Here I Am: The Story of Tim Hetherington, War Photographer
  • Slightly Out of Focus
  • The Mind's Eye: Writings on Photography and Photographers
  • Magnum Contact Sheets
  • In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin
  • Beirut, I Love You: A Memoir
  • The Great War and Modern Memory
  • Hades, Argentina
  • Blood and Champagne: The Life and Times of Robert Capa
  • An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-first Century
  • Unreasonable Behaviour: An Autobiography
  • After the Last Border: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America
  • On Violence
  • Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield
  • American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption
See similar books…
Lynsey Addario is an American photojournalist who regularly photographs for The New York Times, National Geographic, and Time Magazine.

Lynsey began photographing professionally for the Buenos Aires Herald in Argentina 1996 with no previous photographic training or studies. She eventually began freelancing for the Associated Press in New York, where she worked for several years before moving abroad

News & Interviews

Kazuo Ishiguro insists he’s an optimist about technology.  “I'm not one of these people who thinks it's going to come and destroy us,” he...
244 likes · 26 comments
“Journalists can sound grandiose when they talk about their profession. Some of us are adrenaline junkies; some of us are escapists; some of us do wreck our personal lives and hurt those who love us most. This work can destroy people. I have seen so many friends and colleagues become unrecognizable from trauma: short-tempered, sleepless, and alienated from friends. But after years of witnessing so much suffering in the world, we find it hard to acknowledge that lucky, free, prosperous people like us might be suffering, too. We feel more comfortable in the darkest places than we do back home, where life seems too simple and too easy. We don’t listen to that inner voice that says it is time to take a break from documenting other people’s lives and start building our own. Under it all, however, are the things that sustain us and bring us together: the privilege of witnessing things that others do not; an idealistic belief that a photograph might affect people’s souls; the thrill of creating art and contributing to the world’s database of knowledge. When I return home and rationally consider the risks, the choices are difficult. But when I am doing my work, I am alive and I am me. It’s what I do. I am sure there are other versions of happiness, but this one is mine.” 26 likes
“Photography has shaped the way I look at the world; it has taught me to look beyond myself and capture the world outside.” 14 likes
More quotes…