Behind the Scenes

The First Gulf War

The thing that stuck with me the most from the war in Kuwait was devastation to the environment in the aftermath of the conflict itself. It was a truly surreal experience. With 600 oil fields afire, the midday sky was almost as black as night. There were bodies of dead soldiers amid destroyed machinery and injured, wandering animals - It was truly a vision of hell.

Danger was imminent in every direction. I had to take pictures under different conditions. It was terrifying, but thrilling. There was smoke everywhere, from bombs, from mines. The whole scene was visually arresting.

The darkness caused by the burning oil wells was like a moonless night. The exposure on my camera was about a quarter of a second on f2.8. The photographs show a scorched, infernal place, but they don’t convey the fine mist of oil that hung in the air and coated my cameras, or the deafening roar of the burning wells. Nor do they show the unexploded bombs and mines that dotted the desert. I’ll never forget the moment I got out of the car to stretch my legs and caught a glimpse of an allied lawn-dart mine behind the vehicle with our tire tracks running right over it!