Thirty photos taken by Cutraro in Iraq for the Post have been redeveloped in arty black-and-white and are on view through January 31 at Gallery Urbis Orbis (419 North Tenth Street, 314-406-5778, www.urbis-orbis.com). Among the compelling images is a close-up of a Marine who's painted his face to look like a skull, like the bank robbers from the movie Dead Presidents. Another shows Iraqi civilians who ran through a roadblock and were shot by the Marines, only to be subsequently cared for by U.S. medics.
There's a great story behind that last one, Cutraro explains. One of the Marines tried to prevent the photographer from taking photos of the civilians injured by U.S. fire; other soldiers intervened, disagreeing with their comrade, eventually permitting Cutraro to take the photos. (At www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/flash/photo/world/iraq/warphotogs/index.htm, you can hear an audio clip of Cutraro recounting the tale.)
That's a good example of the mixed blessing of embedding the media with troops, Cutraro says. He says he didn't want to "appear to be a stooge of the government, broadcasting almost propaganda-like images of victory back home" during his 31 days in Iraq. He has a balanced view of his role in the affair, though; as far as showing the rest of the world what's going on in a war zone (which he has previously done in Afghanistan and Israel), tagging along with American forces has its benefits and its drawbacks, he says -- including issues of life and death.
"That's the delicate balance that you have to entertain when you're covering a war," he says. "That is, where can I be that I'm close enough to get pictures but not close enough to get killed."