100 pics 10 months 1 life

Baidoa, Somalia August 1992 © Jørn Stjerneklar




When I started out as a photographer I saw myself travelling from one hotspot to the next. Doing my job as a hardcore news photographer. I was very young and not a very good photographer. But I was inspired by icons like Robert Capa, Don McCullin and Eugine Smith. They represented, for me, the top of our profession. I was willing, in my naive perception of war and the exotic third world, to go anywhere and document what was going on.
Fortunately nobody hired me to go to any hotspot at that time. For the simple reason nobody knew of me or my work. I would have been killed for sure and before I met a bullet only have been able to take some lousy pictures.
It took some years before I had reached a level of professionalism in photography which made me able to go anywhere near those situations. I had matured as a photographer and certainly as a human being.

Since I went to my first really big international story as a news photographer in 1987 I have covered a few wars risking my life. You travel into the worst the world has to offer. You take pictures which are forgotten the next day after being published. And you still do it. It's difficult to put into words what it is war does to you.

I will try to explain a bit about that side of photography this month.

Baidoa in 1992 was Hell on Earth. Some 500 people died every day as a result of the famine. On top of that you had young men with guns terrorising the local population and stealing the food supplies from the NGO's. Riding their Tecnicals down the street high on khat. Shooting people for fun. I was there to document the madness.

This boy is dying. He and a few hundred other people thought they had found a well with fresh water at a German agriculture project. But it was a septic tank and all who drank the "water" were beyond help. It was a nightmare within a nightmare.


No.42