Tim Hetherington: 1970 – 2011

 
Tim Hetherington among rebel fighters of Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) at their frontline headquarters in Tubmanberg, 2003 Tim Hetherington in Liberia, 2003

The sad news of the death of photographer and journalist Tim Hetherington in Libya began to filter out late yesterday afternoon, and was eventually confirmed by BBC correspondents and the Associated Press in the early evening.

Further details soon emerged and it became clear that Chris Hondros of Getty Images was also killed, Guy Martin of Panos Pictures seriously injured, though he is now said to be in a stable condition, and another photographer Michael Brown was also been treated for shrapnel injuries.

Though I only knew Tim through a couple of phone interviews and a number of e-mail exchanges, I can say that he was as dedicated a professional as you will ever find, not to mention a talented journalist, photographer and film maker.

His work in Afghanistan and subsequent film Restrepo, plus his picture of an American soldier in a bunker in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley during fierce fighting with the Taleban which won the World Press Photo Award in 2007, are well known, yet it is his work in Liberia that I will remember him for most.

I can remember seeing his early multi-media pieces from Liberia, many years ago, before the term multi-media had been coined. It was a revelation and a sign of what was to come. His book Long Story Bit by Bit: Liberia Retold, is arguably the best long form photojournalistic project for a decade or more.

It was a conflict that was rarely in the headlines, out of our consciousness, yet he dedicated five years to uncovering and collecting evidence, photographic evidence. He was the only photographer to live behind rebels lines during the conflict in 2003 and later was an investigator on the Panel of Experts for the UN Security Council's Liberia Sanctions Committee. As this interview with the New York Times shows, Tim Hetherington did not take on projects half-heartedly; he gave his all and produced fully rounded pieces of journalism. He committed himself to those he was reporting on.

If there is such as thing as truth, then Tim got as close as anyone could.

So Tim, no one can change the world, but there are those who would have met you in years to come who will be worse off for not doing so. Our thoughts are with your family and close friends.

 
Phil Coomes, Picture editor Article written by Phil Coomes Phil Coomes Picture editor

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