While Boulat captures loveliness and a moment of grace, Geai frames the worst of male aggression. Feinstein also describes Geai’s explicit attempts to stop civilian killings. She attempted to establish connections with murderous men in the Central African Republic, asking them questions like “What does it feel like to kill a child when you have a child of your own?” These two profiles, in particular, raise additional questions about what it means to photograph war with a feminist or humanitarian lens; all of the profiles ask what it means for these photojournalists to return to relatively normal, stable lives when their subjects cannot.
Though Boulat never suffered significant wounds in battle, Feinstein suggests that her devotion to her work ultimately prevented her from getting the medical treatment that may have saved her life. In Ramallah, she took aspirin to treat her worsening headaches, which ultimately exacerbated the real issue—an aneurysm. To receive medical attention, Boulat had to journey through Ramallah to Jerusalem, facing multiple checkpoints. “By the time she was assessed by the neurosurgeons in Israel, her coma was deep and the prognosis bleak,” Feinstein writes. Living in a war zone afforded her unique photographic opportunities, but fewer options for her own care.
Ultimately, Feinstein asserts that it’s impossible to escape such a profession unscathed. His subjects risk their lives, mental health, and well-being to offer images about the truth of war; the least we can do, he suggests, is consider the equally complex stories that lie just behind the camera.