James Nachtwey (born 1948) is an influential American photojournalist and war photographer who has been awarded the Overseas Press Club's coveted Robert Capa Gold Medal an unprecedented 5 times. In 2003, he was injured by a grenade in an attack on his convoy while serving as a TIME contributing correspondent in Baghdad.
After graduating from college, Nachtwey held a series of jobs, including work as a truck driver and on merchant ships. During this period Nachtwey fell in love with photography. He acquired skills in these jobs that would later prove useful to him as he navigated the globe in search of news stories.
In 1994, Nachtwey was covering the upcoming elections in South Africa, the first non-racial ones in decades. As an associate of the Bang-Bang Club, he was at the scene when Ken Oosterbroek was killed and Greg Marinovich was seriously injured.
Nachtwey had been injured previously in his work, but it was during his extensive coverage of the United States invasion of Iraq that he received his first combat injury. As Nachtwey, along with TIME correspondent Michael Weisskopf rode in the back of a humvee with the United States Army "Tomb Raiders" Survey Platoon, an insurgent threw a grenade into the vehicle. Weisskopf grabbed the grenade to throw it out of the humvee, but it exploded in his hand. Two soldiers were injured in the explosion, along with the TIME journalists. Nachtwey managed to take several photographs of medic Billie Grimes treating Weisskopf before passing out. Both journalists were airlifted to Germany and later to hospitals in the United States. Nachtwey recovered sufficiently to return overseas to cover the tsunami in Southeast Asia of December 26, 2004.
Nachtwey has worked with TIME as a contract photographer since 1984. He worked for Black Star from 1980 until 1985 and was a member of Magnum Photos from 1986 until 2001. In 2001, he was a founding member of the VII Photo Agency.
Nachtwey was present during the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, and produced a well known related body of work. He also compiled a photo essay on the effects of the Sudan conflict on civilians.
In 2006, Nachtwey was awarded a Heinz Foundation Achievement Award, which carries a US $250,000 prize, for his body of work. Nachtwey is also one of three winners of the 2007 TED Prize. Each recipient was granted $100,000 and one "world-changing wish" to be revealed at the 2007 TED conference, in Monterey, California. Many members of the TED Community, and a group of world-class companies, have pledged support to help fulfill the wishes. Nachtwey's wish, revealed March 8, 2007, is this: "I'm working on a story that the world needs to know about. I wish for you to help me break it in a way that provides spectacular proof of the power of news photography in the digital age." Those who wish to help him will sign an NDA and help him "gain access to a place in the world where a critical situation is occurring and fully document it with photography; set a date to unveil the pictures and find a series of innovative ways to create powerful impact with them, using novel display technologies and the power of the Internet as well as media; and use the campaign to generate resources for organizations that are working to address and transform the situation." Early results of this work have been unveiled at XDRTB.org to document extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis throughout the world.