Until just recently, photographers were allowed to wander the battlefields unencumbered by military authority, frequently in harm's way, sharing the dangers of combat with the soldiers that they covered. While the brass was never very pleased with this arrangement, they realized that the photographers were documenting history and providing moral support for the folks at home.
The invasion of Iraq to liberate Kuwait changed the relationship between the higher-ups and the photojournalists, and a policy of "embedding" reporters as well as photographers became the norm, the better to direct the flow of propaganda on behalf of the Powers That Be.
For the most part, the media went along, and the result is an American public starving for real visual insight into a violent and confusing war far from most Americans' awareness, and the brass like it that way. Into the breach of mis-information and ignorance on the true effects of this now unpopular war come four very independent photojournalists and two videographers.
Working without the support and often in defiance of American authority, these intrepid souls have produced an astounding body of work. Chelsea Green Publishing is releasing Unembedded: Four Independent Photojournalists on the War in Iraq on October 24.