It may have been the last thing she pictured for her future, but a hometown crowd on hand Saturday to greet Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario knew the strength and creativity evident as she grew up in Westport would provide a great foundation for things to come.

The Westport native returned to talk about her new memoir, "It's What I Do," to a full house at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore despite the snowy afternoon.

"I think it's a lot harder to speak in your home town," said Addario, 41, whose profession has taken her to many global hot spots, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur and Libya, where in 2011 she was held captive -- and threatened with execution -- for a week with fellow Westport native Tyler Hicks, also a photographer, and two other journalists.

"We each had a gun put to our heads," she said, bound and lying on the ground behind a building after capture. "They were trying to decide if they should shoot us."

She said younger journalists sometimes make the mistake of not thoroughly researching where they're heading on assignment bound before putting themselves in jeopardy. "You have to have a lot of information," she said.

Where family is concerned, however, Addario feels the less they know about her assignments, the better. "I try not to say very much until I get back," she said, noting that her husband, with whom she lives in London with their 8-year-old son, is very supportive of her challenging career.

"It's overwhelming," noted her mother, Camille Addario, who has lived in Westport for 50 years and raised four daughters, Lynsey being the youngest. "I'm just so proud of her -- all of them."

"She was always adventurous, even when she was young," her former babysitter noted. "We're so proud of her."

Other locals recalled how the Addario house was always a welcoming and creative environment, where the children were encouraged to express themselves.

"They didn't instill any fear in us," Addario said of her parents, who also encouraged her and her sisters to do that which they believed in.

"I think being the youngest, you're very independent," said her cousin, Jennifer Bonito of Fairfield. "Their family was extremely fun and creative and artistic ... They were always allowed to do things ... to express themselves."

"It was always a great, free-spirited house," said family friend Greg Roberts of Bridgeport. "That was the house we all hung out in -- open-minded, love, fun, family-oriented, creative -- and Camille was the one who set the tone for that."

"I never had any interest in war, or covering war," Addario said, but while studying at the University of Wisconsin -- after graduation from Staples High School in 1991 -- discovered that news photography can have a dramatic impact on those who see those images.

She shared with the audience part of an email she wrote to a Life magazine editor when she was trying to answer questions about what size body armor she would need when she went on her first dangerous assignment in Afghanistan. "I grew up in Connecticut and was raised by hairdressers," she told the editor.

Addario described "It's What I Do" as "a straight-up memoir," featuring both text and photos reflecting her work around the globe -- photos that have won Addario numerous prestigious awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 2009 and a MacArthur Fellowship the same year.

The book, a Addario's website, encompasses her life so far, from growing up in Westport to a photojournalist recording people and places in turmoil the world over, including subjects as diverse as transsexual prostitutes in New York City to women and girls in war zones. Her website -- -- says "It's What I Do" "follows a course unavoidable for Addario -- from her first camera and the pictures it inspired, to early years as a street photographer and the inspiration she found in the work of Sebastião Salgado. Photography becomes a way for her to travel with a purpose -- a singular ambition that shapes and drives her."

"I love it," longtime family friend Sherrylee Dickinson of Norwalk said of the memoir. "I immediately started to read it the second it was available."

"I'm so proud of her," she added. "I was terrified, of course, when she was captured, but the fact that she was able to overcome the trepidation and go back" was inspirational.

"I wanted to be here," Addario said of her first journey to the Iraqi war zone as American troops invaded in 2003. "I want to be there for historic moments in history."