This picture is the last picture that John D McHugh was able to take before he had been shot while photographing the battle. He had been embedded with the US soldiers in Nuristan for several weeks when they had gone to help a fellow unit of soldiers who had been ambushed. He recalls seeing bodies on the road with people who were already dead, while there were also people writhing in pain. All of the sudden the Taliban started shooting from the mountains and he quickly jumped behind a rock panicking.
As soon as the shots kept firing, they all retreated behind a Humvee where bullets were swarming from everywhere, and at this point he had already acknowledged the chances of him getting shot. He recalled the bullets flying through the air sounding like a swarm of bees. Eventually a bullet went through his ribs and out of his lower back. He explained the entry wound was the size of a penny, and the exit bigger than the palm of his hand, while he was convinced he was about to end up dying on the battlefield while trying to photograph the war. He kept thinking the worst, like, “what if i don’t die, and i’m paralysed for the rest of my life?” It had been 25 minutes before anyone could get to him, and as he was being picked up he reached to grab the camera he had fallen on the ground. The medic joked to him about his injury, saying “hell I can see right through you,” he then at this point knew he would recover. “I love my job but getting shot made me think about life beyond work. I proposed to my girlfriend two months later, and we had a baby last year.” This near death encounter help shape Johns photographic and family career.
The shot that nearly killed me. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/jun/18/war-photographers-special-report (Accessed April 28, 2017)