Shooter: Combat from Behind the Camera
Shooter: Combat from Behind the Camera
Photos by Stacy Pearsall with Words by Stacy Pearsall & Ellie Maas Davis
A soldier’s job is to engage the enemy; Stacy Pearsall’s job is to document the action. As a combat photographer, she carries a gun, but her real weapon is her camera. Shooter is Pearsall’s unflinching account of her life behind enemy lines as told through photographs and essays that reveal the realities of war.
Pearsall was situated just north of Baghdad in the Diyala Province, a place known as Deadly Diyala, where the Battle for Baqubah ensued. She encountered close-quarter combat, recovered the body of a mortally wounded soldier, and captured soldiers’ final moments with her camera, enduring all the hardships of war with the soldiers.
In this photographic book, Pearsall sheds light on what life during war is really like—both in the middle of the action and at rest. Detailed intimate essays about her relationships with soldiers, death, and combat accompany her striking photographs. She shares her poignant memories of the most dramatic and compelling moments in battle with brutal honesty through colorful stories and images.
I am indebted to those I served alongside, who protected me, and who are the subjects of my photographs. Without you, I couldn’t have made the pictures that fill these pages. For my friends who are not alive to see this book, I’m eternally grateful for your sacrifices and will never forget you. You are my heroes.
They say that behind every great man is a great woman. In this case, it’s the other way around. I’m not saying I’m great, but I really think my husband is. After being wounded in Iraq and in the dark days that followed, he was, and still is, my reason for living.
It has always been those who believe in me that have given me the strength to trust in my work and myself. Dane Sanders is one of those incredibly generous and supportive people. Without his help I would not have known where to start, nor would I have met Danielle Svetcov. I had little idea how to even write a book proposal until I met her. Not only is she my agent, she is, in many ways, my mentor. Even though this endeavor took much time and effort, she never ceased to believe in the book or me.
I’m blessed that Ellie Maas Davis came into my life when she did. Her knowledge, energy, enthusiasm and creativity really made an impact on me personally and this project as well. Through the laughter, tears, and emotional roller coasters, she has been incredibly patient, considerate, and thoughtful. She gets me. I’m proud to call her friend.
Lara Asher happens to be the fairy god- mother in this tale. She recognized the worthiness of the story and truly understood the importance of my photographs. To Lara and the rest of the publishing staff at Globe Pequot Press, thank you.
To my loving family, friends and all those who’ve touched my life and career, I thank you, too.
“Stacy Pearsall’s superb combination of fine photography and descriptive writing offers the reader a meaningful, visceral insight into the American combat experience in Iraq. . . . Her work gives the reader a sense of being there with descriptive passages that add a human dimension not often encountered in books of this kind. . . . An outstanding example of the best in photojournalism.” –Hal Buell, former photography director at the Associated Press, and author of Moments: The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photographs and Uncommon Valor, Common Virtue
“Stacy Pearsall’s photos of the Iraq War showcase, in brilliant portraiture, the brutal and beneficial realities of battle. I’m in awe of both her fearlessness to enter hot zones with a camera in tow and her amazing ability to compose a shot and tell the story, while operating in the thick of battle.”
–Doug Giles, author of Raising Righteous & Rowdy Girls
–Joe McNally, National Geographic photographer, author of Faces of Ground Zero, The Moment It Clicks, and The Hot Shoe Diaries
“The ancient Greek philosopher Aeschylus once said, ‘In war, truth is the first casualty.’ Although this statement was made four to five hundred years before the birth of Christ, its significance is still relevant to this day. Photojournalists are the purveyors of truth. They document fact and record history. Without them we are blind to the events that shape our world and our existence. U.S. Air Force combat photographer Stacy Pearsall takes us on that truth-seeking journey in the book Shooter. Often, we see but a single image in our newspapers and magazines that can only give us a brief glimpse into a news situation. Shooter, and Pearsall, takes us on a behind-the-scenes tour and gives us a true sense of what it is like for our service men and women who are placed in harm’s way. The powerful images put a face, not only on our troops, but also on the civilians who are involuntarily brought into the fray. The images do not glorify but rather document the reality of war….through both critical and intimate moments. After seeing the photographs, the viewer will feel like they’ve just ridden shotgun with our troops abroad.” –Jim Colton, Photography Editor, Sports Illustrated, Former Director of Photography, Newsweek Magazine.
“The first time I saw Stacy L. Pearsall’s photography I had a very hard time holding back the tears. She’s one of the most impressive photographic story tellers I’ve ever met. She’s an ego-less teacher, a humble warrior and a true credit both to our country and the profession we share. As a professional photographer I’ve literally seen hundreds of thousands of photographs. I can’t recall a single one that moves me more than those I’ve seen come from Stacy. This book is full of life-changing images. This book doesn’t celebrate war–it celebrates the human spirit, courage, and bravery that is required of the young men and women who risk everything to protect their country. There’s a reason that Stacy was named Combat Photographer of the Year–twice. She’s simply got the eye of an empathetic angel and the heart of the strongest lion. Buy this book – proudly display it on your coffee table and celebrate the amazing images shared here by an American hero.”
–Scott Bourne, award-winning photographer