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A graduate of Dartmouth College where he studied art history and political science, Nachtwey, a self-taught photographer, has been a contract photographer with Time since 1984. He began working as a newspaper photographer in 1976 in New Mexico before moving to New York to begin a career as a freelance magazine photographer.
Nachtwey’s first foreign assignment was to cover civil strife in Northern Ireland in 1981 during the IRA hunger strike. He has since worked on extensive photographic essays in countries all over the world, and his work has taken him to many of the world’s most dangerous battlefields and areas of sectarian strife, which frequently placed him in harm’s way.
Nachtwey has been associated with the Black Star photo agency and was a member of the Magnum photo agency. In 2001, he co-founded the photo agency, VII.
He has held solo exhibitions all over the world, including the International Center of Photography in New York; the Bibliotheque nationale de France in Paris; the Palazzo Esposizione in Rome. Nachtwey is a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, has received numerous prestigious honors, and is a five-time winner of the Robert Capa Gold Medal, a two-time recipient of the World Press Photo Award, and a seven-time Magazine Photographer of the Year.