Tributes from Colleagues to Killed War Photographers

With the news that documentarian and photographer Tim Hetherington died yesterday in Libya, and, later, the confirmation that photographer Chris Hondros had also been killed, media organizations who worked with either of the pair, or both, or who worked with neither but admired their work and courage, are paying tribute. A rounded picture of the men and their work is emerging for those who weren’t immediately familiar with either, and space for remembrance and tribute is emerging for those who were.

The New York Times’s Lens blog spoke with friends and colleagues of both men who shared stories and outlined just how far removed from the war photographer stereotype both seemed to be. In a remembrance of Tim Hetherington compiled by David W. Dunlap, James Estrin, and Kerri MacDonald, photographer Lynsey Addario, recently held captive and released in Libya, discusses her colleague:

Lynsey Addario, no stranger to the perils posed by conflict (“It’s What I Do”), remembered the day in 2007 in Afghanistan when she and Mr. Hetherington were trapped under fire. Ms. Addario was on assignment for The Times Magazine, Mr. Hetherington for Vanity Fair. “We were ambushed from both sides,” she recalled. “It was a terrifying situation. I was trying to find a place to hide, to shield myself. And I remember looking over and there was Tim—just calmly sitting up, filming the whole ambush on a video camera. And I thought to myself, ‘Oh my God, I want to be a photographer like him.’”

Later in the same piece, the writers touch on the comfort that Hetherington provided for photojournalists returning home and making the difficult readjustment to “civilian life.”

Besides being an inspirational force, Mr. Hetherington was also a boon companion for anyone trying to readjust to day-to-day existence in the States after the intense engagement of combat and insurrection. Samantha Appleton, a photographer and a founder of Noor, a cooperative agency, said: “Coming home is always the hardest part, you know, trying to get back into normal life. It’s a difficult thing. You gravitate towards people that have experienced the same thing and it makes coming home a lot easier—to be with friends who’ve experienced war.”

Lens also pays tribute to Hondros, a photographer with Getty images, and spoke to colleagues like photographer Ron Haviv.

Mr. Hondros spoke with Lens in February about those risks after he was assaulted twice covering the uprising in Egypt. Mr. Haviv remembered something else about that time in Tahrir Square, when Mr. Hondros made a point of sticking by the photographer Scout Tufankjian. “She kept getting manhandled as she made her way through the square and Chris made it a real purpose to protect her,” Mr. Haviv said. “He was standing behind her and chatting up the men and embarrassing them to the point that they would leave her alone — while concentrating on what he was doing.”

Elsewhere, Graydon Carter at Vanity Fair, where Hetherington was on staff, wrote a short note remembering the photographer and telling readers that Hetherington’s Restrepo co-director, Sebastian Junger, will be writing a longer piece for the magazine. Carter writes:

Tim was about as perfect a model of a war photographer as you’re going to find these days, and one very much in the mold of Robert Capa and Larry Burrows. He was a rangy, charming workhorse of a photographer. Devilishly good-looking and impossibly brave, he was both a ladies’ man and a man’s man. Tim covered numerous conflicts for Vanity Fair, including months he spent on assignment following American soldiers along the deadly Korengal Valley, in Afghanistan, with contributing editor Sebastian Junger….He had a deft eye and unwavering dedication, and as we used to say in Canada, he had balls for bookends.

At the Daily Beast, Newsweek’s David A. Graham managed to gather memories from an intimate gathering of friends and colleagues last night at the Half King, a New York bar co-owned by Junger.

“Tim was very brave. We were in a lot of combat situations, and I can’t imagine a better combat photographer,” Junger said of Hetherington. But he said the best way to remember the fallen photographers was to recall that they were killed not while trying to snap a front-page photograph, but while attempting to chronicle of the destruction caused by armed conflict. “He and Chris Hondros and the other journalists in Misrata were capturing the horror of Misrata, but they were also capturing something much greater and more important: all of the tens of thousands of civilians that have been killed in the past decades. That’s what they were going there for—Rwanda, Sarajevo, Liberia, the list goes on.”

Galleries of the two photographers’ work can be found here, here, here, and elsewhere across the web today.

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Joel Meares is a former CJR assistant editor. Tags: , , , , , , ,