She graduated from Staples High School, in Westport, Connecticut, in 1991 and from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1995.
Her work often focuses on conflicts and human rights issues, especially the role of women in traditional societies. She began photographing professionally in 1996 at the Buenos Aires Herald in Argentina, and then began freelancing for the Associated Press, with Cuba as a focus. In 2000, she photographed in Afghanistan under Taliban control.
She has since covered conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur, Republic of the Congo, and Haiti.
She has covered stories throughout the Middle East and Africa. She has visited Darfur or neighboring Chad at least once a month from August 2004.
She has photographed for The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Time, Newsweek, and National Geographic. In Pakistan on May 9, 2009, Addario was involved in an automobile accident while returning to Islamabad from an assignment at a refugee camp.
Her collar bone (clavicle) was broken, another journalist was injured, and the driver was killed.
Addario was one of four New York Times journalists who were missing in Libya from March 16–21, 2011. The Libyan government released the four journalists on March 21, 2011. She reports that she was threatened with death and repeatedly groped during her captivity by the Libyan Army.
Addario told the press that "Physically we were blindfolded and bound.
In the beginning, my hands and feet were bound very tightly behind our backs and my feet were tied with shoelaces. I was blindfolded most of the first three days, with the exception of the first six hours.
I was punched in the face a few times and groped repeatedly." And "lieutenant was incredibly intense and violent. lieutenant was abusive throughout, both psychologically and physically.
lieutenant was very chaotic and very aggressive.
Foreign me, there was a lot of groping right away. Sort of everyone who had to pick me up and carry me somewhere, they would reach around and grab my breasts and touch my butt--everyone who came near medical " In November 2011, The New York Times wrote a letter of complaint on behalf of Addario to the Israeli government, after allegations that Israeli soldiers at the Erez Crossing had strip-searched and mocked her and forced her to go through an X-ray scanner three times despite knowing that she was pregnant. Addario reported that she had "never, ever been treated with such blatant cruelty." The Israeli Defence ministry subsequently issued an apology to both Addario and The New York Times.
The extensive exhibition In Afghanistan at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway has her photos of Afghan women juxtaposed with Tim Hetherington"s photographs from American soldiers in the Korangal Valley.
Addario is married to Paul de Bendern, a journalist with Reuters. They have one son, Lukas (B 2011).