They’re also fraught with ethical pitfalls. The use of unnamed freelancers by major news organizations in an area ruled by one of the world’s most dangerous militant groups has raised a host of questions, from how these agencies can ensure their journalists’ safety to whether they can vouch for the methods of the anonymous photographers working for them — or these journalists’ relationship with the IS fighters they claim to cover.

And as interviews with a few of the photographers currently working within the caliphate indicate, some agencies are willing to work far outside of traditional journalistic norms in order to provide a window into the world now almost entirely cut off from outsiders, in some cases even sacrificing editorial control to militant jihadists — all in order to get an up-close glimpse of the enemy.