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Joao Silva

João Silva, on location
Photo: Halden Krog/AP Photo

João Silva, 44, a South African photographer on contract with The New York Times, stepped on a mine while accompanying American soldiers patrolling an area near the town of Arghandab in southern Afghanistan on October 23rd, 2010. Despite immediate help from medics, both his legs were lost below the knees.

"Those of you who know João will not be surprised to learn that throughout this ordeal he continued to shoot pictures," wrote Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, in a memo to staff.

João Silva made his name while covering the violent birth pangs of a democratic South Africa. He was a member of the Bang-Bang Club, a group of photographers who documented the Hostel War during the last days of Apartheid. Since he has covered the major conflicts of our time and won numerous awards.

João Silva Facebook update on his final surgery

The final surgery went well.

João Silva visits the New York Times

João gets a standing ovation from The New York Times' photo department, 1 August 2011. Photo: Kerri MacDonald.

João Silva's A1 picture in the New York Times

The New York Times, A1, 28 July 2011.

Joao Silva get a visit from First Lady Michelle Obama on Memorial Day 2011

First Lady Michelle Obama visits João at Walter Reed Medical Center on Memorial Day 2011. Photo: Arnaldo da Silva.

Listen to Joao and Greg's 45min interview
with WHYY's Terry Gross (aired 21 April 2011)

João takes first steps at Walter Reed in Washington, DC, 7 February 2011.

Joao Silva visits Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in electric wheel chair

João visits the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC, on his first day out of the hospital, 16 January 2011. Photo: David Guttenfelder/AP.

US Vice President Joe Biden visits Joao Silva at Walter Reed on Christmas Day

US Vice President Joe Biden, João and his parents pose for a photograph at Walter Reed on Christmas Day. Photos: Tom Cohen.

Joao Silva at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington DC

Walter Reed Medical Center, Nov 2010. Photo: Greg Marinovich.

New York Times blog post on Joao Silva

Critically wounded and knocked over by the blast, João managed to shoot these three frames. Photos: João Silva.

João stumbled upon his career when he accompanied a friend on a photo shoot in the 1980s and was instantly hooked. A contract photographer for The Times since 2000, he is also an avid motorcyclist, a husband to Viv and a father to two young children, Isabel and Gabriel.

Update - 1 August 2011: João visits the New York Times in New York.

Update - 28 July 2011: João shoots his first assignment since losing his legs in Afghanistan. Read more on the New York Times Lens blog.

Update - 30 May 2011: First Lady Michelle Obama visits João at Walter Reed Medical Center on Memorial Day 2011. Read more on the New York Times Lens blog.

Update - 7 Feb. 2011: João takes first steps with his prosthetic legs at Walter Reed in Washington, DC, 7 February 2011. Read more on the New York Times Lens blog.

Update - 16 Jan. 2011: João gets a day pass from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Update - 25 Dec. 2010: US Vice President Joe Biden pays an unplanned visit to João at Walter Reed on Christmas Day. The Vice President's first words were along the lines of "You're supposed to let the Army do that stuff." He and Joao spoke for about 10 minutes

Update - 5 Dec. 2010: Emilio Morenatti of The Associated Press, who lost his left foot and part of his left leg in August 2009, visits João at Walter Reed.

Update - 2 Dec. 2010: João moves out the intensive care unit.

Update - 29 Nov. 2010: The New York Times posts images from João's memory card and the account of the day's events by text reporter Carlotta Gall who was accompanying João on the fateful day.

Update - 15 Nov. 2010 Greg Marinovich is in DC this week visiting João. He writes: "Spending time with João, Viv and the staff at the hospital, it dawned on me how close to death he has been. Besides losing his lower legs, he suffered a myriad of other injuries, many of them extremely serious. • He has spent three weeks now in intensive care, and were it not for remarkable health professionals - and the quick action of the soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan - he would not be with us. • We hope that most dangers are now behind him, and he can slowly start the road to recovery, but he is still extremely weak and exhausted by the series of operations he has had to endure. He has a few more and should be able to look forward to moving out of intensive care in a week or so. • João is overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and affection from friends and strangers around the world."

Update - 29 Oct. 2010: João is admitted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC.

Thank you for supporting him.

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Dear Friends and Supporters,

I would like to thank everyone, friend and stranger, who came forward and supported my family and I during this very difficult period of our lives. Without your support these past ten months would have been so much more difficult to live through.

My dear family, Vivian, Isabel and Gabriel, and I are eternally grateful.


João speaks to guests at the Bronx Documentary Center, August 2, 2011. Photo: Peter van Agtmael
UPDATE - Sept. 15th, 2011
João has now signed his employment contract with the New York Times. His final surgery went well. He received his new cameras yesterday and had his first assignment as a staff photographer today.
10 months and 3 weeks after the land mine explosion, more than 185 print sales and over $45,000 in donations later, we are closing down this fundraiser. If you wish to help the family of another photographer please visit

Thank you.
Additional thanks to:
  • Peter van Agtmael
  • Kristina Ackermann
  • Christiane Amanpour
  • Ben Anderson
  • Barry Bearak
  • David Brabyn
  • Ian O. Cameron
  • David Carr
  • Bryan Chan
  • CJ Chivers
  • Tom Cohen
  • Marco Colandrea
  • Robin Comley
  • Clothilde Le Coz
  • Steve Danyluk
  • Kate Day
  • Jessie deWitt
  • Jonathan Diamond
  • Celia Dugger
  • David Dunlap
  • Wilfried Esteve
  • James Estrin
  • Andrew Fingerman
  • Jim Fiora
  • Jeff Fleming
  • Dexter Flinkins
  • David Furst
  • Carlotta Gall
  • Ashley Gilbertson
  • David and Lily Goldblatt
  • David Guttenfelder
  • Darius Jonker
  • Gypsy Guillen Kaiser
  • Guilad Kahn
  • Michael Kamber
  • Bill Keller
  • Nick Kristof
  • Shane de Lange
  • Delphine Lelu
  • Jean-François Leroy
  • Santiago Lyon
  • Michele McNally
  • Naude van der Merwe
  • Virginia M. Moncrieff
  • Allen Murabayashi
  • Jean-Jacques Naudet
  • Carel Nolte
  • Claire O'Neill
  • Franco Pagetti
  • Miguel Rozas Pashley
  • Rankin
  • Rachel Reiss
  • Gavin Rooke
  • Judy Rosenthal
  • Tim Rosini
  • Grover Sanschagrin
  • Dennis Da Silva
  • Joel Simon
  • Brian Smith
  • Ingrid Spangler
  • Jackie Spinner
  • Brian Stelter
  • George Stephanopoulos
  • Rachel Swarns
  • Mikko Takkunen
  • Alain Tournaille
  • Elizabeth Trudeau
  • Donald R. Winslow
  • Patrick Witty
  • Lesley Wroughton
  • Jake Wyman
  • Etana
  • Portuguese embassy in SA
  • Portuguese embassy in USA
  • SA Embassy in USA
  • Silvertone
  • US Embassy in South Africa