Cover image for Shutterbabe : adventures in love and war
Title:
Shutterbabe : adventures in love and war
Author:
Copaken, Deborah.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Villard, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
300 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Language:
English
Personal Subject:
ISBN:
9780375503641
Format :
Book

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TR140.K64 A3 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

What if the protagonist in that age-old tale--boy goes to war, comes back a man--were a female? Shutterbabe, Deborah Copaken Kogan's remarkable debut, is just that: the story of a twenty-two-year-old girl from Potomac, Maryland, who goes off to photograph wars and comes back, four years and one too many adventures later, a woman. In 1988, fresh out of Harvard, Kogan moved to Paris with a small backpack, a couple of cameras, the hubris of a superhero, and a strong thirst for danger. She wanted to see what a war would look like when seen from up close, to immerse herself in a world where the gun is God. Naïvely, she figured it would be easy to filter death through the prism of her wide-angle lens.          She was dead wrong. Within weeks of arriving in Paris, after knocking on countless photo agency doors and begging to be sent where the action was, Kogan found herself on the back of a truck in Afghanistan, her tiny frame veiled from head to toe, the only woman -- and the only journalis -- in a convoy of rebel freedom fighters. Kogan had not actually planned on shooting the Afghan war alone. However, the beguiling French photographer she'd entrusted with both her itinerary and her heart turned out to be as dangerously unpredictable as, well, a war. It is the saga of both her relationship with this French-man and her assignment in Afghanistan that fuels the first of Shutterbabe's six page-turning chapters, each covering a different corner of the globe and each ultimately linked to the man Kogan was involved with at the time. From Zim-babwe to Romania, from Russia to Haiti, Kogan takes her readers on a heartbreaking yet surprisingly hilarious journey through a mine-strewn decade, her personal battles against sexism, battery, and even rape blending seamlessly with the historical struggles of war, revolution, and unfathomable abuse it was her job to record. In the end, what was once adventurous to the girl began to weigh heavily on the woman. Though her photographs were often splashed across the front pages of international newspapers and magazines, though she was finally accepted into photojournalism's macho fraternity, with each new assignment, with each new affair, Kogan began to feel there was something more she was after. Ultimately, what she discovered in herself was a person -- a woman -- for whom life, not death, is the one true adventure to be cherished above all.


Author Notes

Deborah Copaken Kogan graduated from Harvard in 1988. From 1988 to 1992 she worked as a photojournalist, and her work appeared in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, L'Express, and hundreds of other international newspapers and magazines. She spent the next six years in TV journalism, most recently as a producer for Dateline NBC. She lives in New York with her husband and two children.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Hedonist, thrill-seeker, and collector of men are just a few of the words Kogan pastes on herself in this exhibitionist memoir of her stint in international photojournalism. Born in 1966, and of late married and mothering in Manhattan, Kogan exercised her freedoms when in her early twenties, boldly decamping for Paris to freelance her way into the employ of Gamma, Magnum, or Contact. Thereafter she was hit by shrapnel in Afghanistan, knifed in Switzerland, and beaten by a lover in Pakistan. She ducked gunfire in Moscow, slept with numerous men, and in general led a high-risk lifestyle. She holds nothing back about the awful things done to her, or about her attraction to the social danger zones inhabited by strippers, heroin mainliners, rhino poachers, and guerrillas. With attitude, energy, and edge, she also records the chauvinistic world of photojournalism as she experienced it. Her account will elicit reactions ranging from censoriousness to approbation. But it seems meant to attract attention, as Talk magazine's decision to serialize it attests. Gilbert Taylor


Publisher's Weekly Review

To pursue her dream to cover wars as a photojournalist, Kogan moved to Paris upon graduation from Harvard in 1988. Pretty and petite, with a sharp eye for good-looking, virile colleagues who, incidentally, could help her career, she embarked on a series of adventures that she breezily chronicles with a somewhat disingenuous na‹vet‚. Although her publisher compares her to Christiane Amanpour, readers may find more similarities with Candace Bushnell in these episodic vignettes describing both her far-flung assignments and intimate relationships with colleagues. She traveled with Pascal to Afghanistan and Pierre to Amsterdam; Julian helped her in Zimbabwe, but forbade further intimacies; Doru was with her in Romania. When she met Paul, her husband-to-be, Kogan's commitment to photojournalism waned: she blames her distaste on the wartime horrors she witnessed. Calling photojournalists vultures who feed on other people's misery, she conflates paparazzi with photojournalists, expressing disgust at their role in Princess Diana's fatal accident. Upon her return with Paul to the U.S., she began a new career as assistant producer for NBC's Dateline, which she eventually left to become a full-time mother. Kogan's swiftly paced story easily holds the reader's interest as she moves from her carefree days as an aspiring photojournalist to the responsibilities and dilemmas facing a working mother. First serial rights to Talk magazine in the February issue should boost interest in this sassy debut. First serial to Talk. Agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh at The Writers Shop. (Jan. 25) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Kogan graduated from college in 1988 and moved to Paris to find work as a photojournalist. Shutterbabe is an insightful account of what happened next. Divided into three sections, "Develop," "Stop," and "Fix," which are further divided into chaptersDeach named after a significant male in Kogan's lifeDthe book centers around the author's adventurous travels, which offer a fascinating glimpse into the danger and excitement of observing wars and riots and the competition to take commercially appealing photographs. Kogan clearly describes the economic realities of photojournalism, the difficulty she had remaining removed from the tragedies she witnesses, how she adapted to a predominantly male profession, and the influence the presence of photographers can have on their subject. Her travels from Afghanistan to Romania reveal a life of excitement, danger, and self-awareness that is hard to put down. Recommended for all libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/00.]DAlison Hopkins, Queens Borough P.L., Jamaica, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

THERE'S A WAR GOING ON, AND I'M BLEEDING. An unfortunate situation, to be sure, but considering it's 2 a.m., fresh snow is falling and I'm squished in the back of an old army truck with a band of Afghani freedom fighters who, to avoid being bombed by the Soviet planes circling above, have decided to drive without headlights through the Hindu Kush Mountains over unpaved icy roads laced with land mines, it's also one without obvious remedy. I mean, what am I supposed to do? Ask the driver to pull over for a sec so I can squat behind the nearest snowbank to change my tampon? I don't think so. It's February 1989. I am twenty-two years old. My toes are so cold, they're not so much mine anymore as they are tiny miscreants inside my hiking boots, refusing to obey orders. In my lap, hopping atop my thighs as the truck lurches, as my body shivers, sits a sturdy canvas Domke bag filled with Nikons and Kodachrome film, which I'm hoping to use to photograph the pullout of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan. Actually, I have no idea how to photograph a Soviet pullout. Though this is my second story as a professional photojournalist, I'm still not clear on what it is photojournalists actually do in a real war. The first story I covered, the intifadah, was more straightforward. Organized, even. I'd take the bus early every morning from my youth hostel in Jerusalem to the nearby American Colony Hotel, where all the other journalists were staying (and where I eventually wound up staying when my clothes were stolen from the youth hostel), and I'd go straight to the restaurant off the lobby. There, I'd ingratiate myself with any photographer I could find who had information about the day's planned demos, his own rental car, and a basket of leftover Danish. After eating, we'd drive around the West Bank and wait for the Palestinian kids to throw rocks at Israeli soldiers, which we knew they would do only once a critical mass of journalists had assembled. Then we'd record the resulting skirmishes onto rolls of color slide film while trying to evade arrest and/or seizure of our exposed films by the soldiers. Next, we'd all rush back to Jerusalem to the Beit Agron, the Israeli press office, where we would lie about what we'd just shot ("religious Jews," we'd say, or "landscapes,") and get our government-issued shipping forms stamped and signed accordingly. Finally, we'd head to the strange little cargo office at the airport in Tel Aviv to send our film on a plane back to our photo agencies in Paris. Simple. But here in Afghanistan the situation is more obscure. I'm alone, for one, which among other things means I have no one to help me figure out basic puzzles like how to get my exposed film out of the mountains. Or how to write captions when no one around me speaks English, and I have no idea where, exactly, these photos are being taken or what it is I'm actually seeing. I'm just assuming that at some point, someplace, I will see some dead or bloody mujahed, or some dead or bloody Russian soldier, or some mujahed firing off his Kalashnikovs, or one of those great big Soviet tanks whose names I can never remember, or, well, something that looks vaguely warlike that I can shoot and send-again, it's murky to me exactly how--back to my photo agency in Paris. I look over at Hashim, who's rearranging blankets, knapsacks and boxes of ammunition to clear more leg room on the crowded truck bed. He yanks my maroon nylon backpack from the center of the pile, fills in the newly empty space with a green metal box, mimes "Can I sit on this?" while pointing at my backpack, and, when I nod yes, he wedges it into a corner and plops his 180-pound rump right on top of it. A gentle crunching sound ensues, followed almost immediately by the smell of rubbing alcohol. Shit. My mind races to try to recall what else, besides the bottle of alcohol, I packed in that outside zippered pocket. Then I remember. My box of Tampax. My one and only box of Tampax. Well, now. I'm fucked. Oblivious, Hashim slowly inhales a Winston cigarette and kneads his amber worry beads through his ragged fingers. Trained as a journalist, he's the one Afghani among my forty-seven escorts who actually speaks a few key English phrases such as "Food soon," "Danger, stay in cave," and "Toilet time, Miss Deborah?" But even though I know he will probably understand me if I say, "Please get off my bag," he definitely won't understand "because my tampons are exploding." And because "Please get off my bag" sounds sort of rude, and because the squishy backpack does look like a comfy place to sit while all of us are scrunched together on the back of this rickety old truck heading God knows where, and because my hygiene woes do not hold a candle to the miseries of jihad, I say nothing. Besides, I'm covered from head to toe in an electric-blue burka-an Islamic veil, worn like a Halloween ghost costume-which tends to hinder communication. Not only does it muffle my speech, it makes it impossible to guess, for example, that underneath all this rayon, under my shiny blue ghost costume, I cannot stop crying. What on earth possessed me to come here? In a word, Pascal. It's Pascal's fault I'm here all alone, and when I get back to Pakistan I'm going to kill him. Excerpted from Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War by Deborah Copaken Kogan All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.