Journalists often become close to their sources. It’s a relationship that is at once intimate and detached: professional boundaries are drawn, but shared experiences often blur the lines.
When Los Angeles Times photojournalist Luis Sinco snapped a photograph of Marine Lance Corporal James Blake Miller during the Battle of Fallouja—covered in ash and war paint, propped up against a wall, smoking a cigarette— their lives became forever linked.
The shot of Miller became an iconic image of the Iraq war: “The Marlboro Marine.” Americans connected with the photograph so much that Miller was immediately sent home because, as his superior told him, “nobody wanted to see him wounded or dead.”
Sinco didn’t expect to ever see Miller again. But a year and a half later, back in the U.S., Sinco learned that Miller was kicked out of the Marines for a violent episode because of PTSD. Sinco decided to pay him a visit.
A moving video journal by Luis Sinco on MediaStorm, a multimedia journalism project sponsored by Washingtonpost.com, tells the story of Miller’s struggle to heal his scars of war, and of Sinco’s struggle to determine his role in the process—was he a journalist, helper, or friend?