I want to do the kind of photography where I have to go out into the world and find out what’s happening.
– David Gilkey
David P. Gilkey (1966 – 2016) was a U.S. photojournalist for National Public Radio in the United States, for whom he covered disasters, epidemics, and war. He had photographed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa, an earthquake in Haiti, famine in Somalia, and the Ebola epidemic in Liberia.
Following an internship with Boulder Daily Camera, in the late 1980s, Gilkey was hired on as a Staff Photographer. During his time at The Camera, his hunger for international work grew. He persuaded editors to allow him a leave of absence from daily work, paid his own way, and with some financial assistance from paper owner Knight Ridder Gilkey traveled to South Africa to cover the end of Apartheid as well as the Rwandan genocide and the famine in Somalia. In 1996 Gilkey was hired by the Detroit Free Press and worked there for the Knight-Ridder media company for 11 years. During his time at the Free Press Gilkey began his coverage of the War on Terror traveling to Afghanistan and then Iraq numerous times. In 2007, he joined National Public Radio as a staff photographer and video editor. For NPR, Gilkey continuously covered wars and conflicts in countries, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, and Gaza. Over the span of almost 20 years, Gilkey photographed events such as the ending of the apartheid regime in South Africa, the earthquake in Haiti, and the Ebola incident in Liberia. An anthology of his work titled Pictures on the radio, spearheaded by former Free Press colleague Chip Somodevilla, is scheduled to be released in the year 2021.
David Gilkey died from severe burns he sustained when the convoy he was travelling in came under attack, according to his employer, the U.S. public broadcaster National Public Radio. His Afghan colleague, Zabihullah Tamanna, and the Afghan army driver of the vehicle were also killed. The journalists were on assignment for NPR at the time, the broadcaster said in its first account of the deaths. They died on their first day of being embedded with the Afghan army.
David Gilkey received several awards for his work. He was named Michigan Photographer of the year in 2004 by the Michigan Press Photographers Association. In 2007, Gilkey received the Free Press Award, also referred to as the National Emmy Award, for his inspiring video series. This video was referred to as “Band of Brothers,” which covered the deployment of marines in Iraq. He also received the 2010 George Polk Award for his coverage of the U.S. military and its treatment of the wounded. He was presented with the Still Photographer of the Year Award in 2011. He won the Peabody Award and Edward R. Murrow Award (Corporation for Public Broadcasting) for his coverage of the Ebola epidemic.