Adventurers of the Year 2006

Stephanie Sinclair: Frontline Photographer

When September 11, 2001, changed the world, it also changed the life of photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair. After covering ground zero for the Chicago Tribune, she left her relatively staid and stable job to document the world's darkest corners. Sinclair rode into Baghdad the day it fell, she photographed insurgents in Falluja, and she shot the aftermath of the tsunami in Sri Lanka. These achievements were more than enough to place Sinclair in the upper ranks of war photographers, but earlier this year she completed her most difficult and groundbreaking assignment to date: to explore the brutal and never before documented world of child brides in Afghanistan. In the desolate and lawless Ghor Province, in the villages of Chavosh and Damarda, places almost unknown to foreigners, she spent weeks living with families, gaining their trust and integrating herself into the nearly closed society of rural Afghan women. Only then was she able to capture the first photographs of Afghan girls, some ten years old or less, being sold off as brides. The shots were heartbreaking, but especially so when paired with other shots she'd taken of child brides in a hospital burn ward after they'd lit themselves aflame in protest. In July her work hit newsstands around the globe, shocking millions. And while some call Sinclair a hero for her work, she doesn't agree. Her adventurous life is just a means to an end. "People are in extreme need," she says, "and they're relying on me to show the world and create change."