This week’s episode of the Overheard at National Geographic podcast breaks format, shifting away from a deep dive with the explorers behind a specific story and instead celebrating the work of longtime photographer Anastasia Taylor-Lind. In this 28-minute episode, listeners will get to hear about her fascinating life.
Born to a family that lived in a covered wagon in 1981, Anastasia’s family traveled all over the United Kingdom living a fairly nomadic lifestyle until she was 9-years-old. Her father’s ability to tell amazing stories inspired her to become a journalist and while she grew up without exposure to newspapers or TV, an annual Christmas gift of National Geographic made her current career her childhood dream.
A high school photography class married with her mother’s collection of wartime poetry turned that dream into something even more specific. A college on-the-field assignment in Iraqi Kurdistan when she was 22 changed everything for her. She was doing a photo story about the Peshmerga women soldiers who were fighting with the coalition forces. She entered a picture of a woman holding a Kalashnikov while manning a checkpoint into a competition that won her 5,000 pounds and a trip back to Kurdistan commissioned by The Guardian.
The episode is called “The Failing of War Photography” because as Anastasia Taylor-Lind sees it, people in war torn countries aren’t depicted as people but rather civilians, combatants, or collateral damage. War photos make the subjects seem exotic and make viewers feel like it could never happen to them.
Anastasia Taylor-Lind also talks about a key turning point in her life where she felt like a cog in the war machine helping to sensationalize the act of war. She took a break from photography to study at Harvard to learn more ethical ways to tell war stories before getting back in the field. She’s been covering stories in Ukraine for the past six years covering human elements of war like how parents explain the sounds of shells falling to their children.