Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were two of the most respected war journalists of the modern age, men who lived a soldier’s life – and took a soldier’s risks – to capture images from inside the heart of the battle. Both men’s lives were taken in an RPG blast on April 20 in Libya. Since then, an outpouring of tributes from friends and collaborators have given shape the lives of the men who shaped our understanding of war.
In Vanity Fair this month, noted author and close friend Sebastian Junger recalled Hetherington as both man and artist:
Your vision, though. Let’s talk about that. It’s what you wanted to communicate to the world about this story-about every story. Maybe Misrata wasn’t worth dying for-surely that thought must have crossed your mind in those last moments-but what about all the Misratas of the world? What about Liberia and Darfur and Sri Lanka and all those terrible, ugly stories that you brought such humanity to? That you helped bring the world’s attention to?
After the war in Liberia you rented a house in the capital and lived there for years. Years. Who does that? No one I know except you, my dear friend. That’s part of Misrata, too. That’s also part of what you died for: the decision to live a life that was thrown open to all the beauty and misery and ugliness and joy in the world.
And Hetherington’s own words appear in Outside magazine, to whom he gave what would be his last interview:
Doesn’t a personal view get in the way of the kind of objectivity that journalists offer?
I’ve never been interested in objectivity.
What is objectivity? There’s always a perceived subjectivity-that Al Jazeera has a point of view, that CNN has a point of view. I’m not advocating citizen journalism necessarily. I think it’s a great thing that the wires exist. We need everything. It all adds to the layers of understanding and meaning. I’m about being inclusive.
Aren’t professionals losing their jobs due to all this inclusiveness?
As professionals we’re meant to be communicators, but we’re not actually driven by what people can relate to. The photographic community is not thinking hard enough about who we’re making the work for. Sometimes professional aesthetics don’t help.
Hondros, meanwhile, was a Getty staff photographer who had come to prominence during the Iraq war, when his images of an Iraqi family being fired on by American troops when they refused to stop at a checkpoint reverberated in both nations and beyond.
Both men were heroes of their craft, tellers of a truth to which there’s precious little access. They’ll be missed, and mourned, tremendously. [PopPhoto, Vanity Fair, Outside, Photo credit: Tim Hetherington, Infidel]