Nina Berman is an award-winning documentary photographer with a keen interest in America's social and political landscape. Her first book, Purple Hearts: Back From Iraq, is a collection of portraits and interviews of wounded soldiers who have returned home. Her photograph of a severely disfigured Iraq veteran and his bride on their wedding day won the World Press Photo competition for portraiture in 2006.
Berman's new book, Homeland, depicts the evolution of the "American security state" from 2001 to 2007. Berman traveled around the country, photographing gun shows, SWAT team training, a public military academy for juvenile delinquents and endless drills and simulations designed to prepare Americans of all ages to respond to someone's idea of a terrorist attack. Berman began the project after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"I started shortly after 9/11, (after I) started seeing things that struck me as odd -- examples of security -- and not knowing whether this was a rational response to a real threat or whether it was all theater."
Berman started shopping the book around in 2003, but soon realized it wasn't ready. Setting the project aside, she turned her attention to reporting on wounded soldiers. When she returned to her Homeland series, she had renewed energy. "One reason I thought it was important was because many of the soldiers I interviewed said they thought war was going to be fun," Berman explains. "This book is about how we visualize war."