Photojournalist Lynsey Addario answers my question!

I was privileged to talk to Lynsey Addario at the presentation of her recent photo essay in Chicago.

The essay, part of Chicago Council of Global Affairs’ “Women as Changemakers” series, was a breathtaking and graphic account of Addario’s journey exploring the condition of women around the world.  

During the Q&A session, the coordinator finally saw my waving hand and pointed to the “young lady in the third row”.

My heart was racing as I took the mic.

Me: Hi Lynsey!

Lynsey: *trying to figure out where the voice was coming from*

Me: *waving* I’m the short one right here! I was wondering if you could give some advice to a newbie freelance journalist?

Lynsey: Hi, well you have to be very persistent and have a clear idea of what you want to cover. Also, you have to willing to not have a personal life for the next twenty years. Get ready to get cheated on! *pause for laughter*

(Note: I am paraphrasing because, of course, I just had to forget my pen at the perfect moment!)

Much as I appreciated her down-to-earth answer, my favorite part was her story of becoming a photojournalist.

(Photo courtesy of Lynsey Addario.)

A photographer by hobby, Addario hadn’t even consider photojournalism as a career until after she graduated with a BA in International Relations from University of Madison.

Without taking a single photography class, Addario followed her deep interest in international affairs to Argentina.

Determined to work for a newspaper, she persistently showed up at the office of The Buenos Aires Herald asking for a job.

They told her to come back with a picture of Madonna, who was filming in the area.

After an amazing stroke of luck, and a lot of determination, she got the job.

Three years later, she was freelancing around the world with Associated Press, The New York Times and National Geographic.

It’s always nice to be reminded that persistence and passion can go a long way.

Someday, that’ll be me!

Until then, I shall continue to admire her work and learn from it and you should too!

Check out her website,