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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
"To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It's a way of life." ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Friday, July 22, 2011

Photographer Profile ~ Tim Hetherington (RIP)

Tim Hetherington was the talented war photographer and Oscar-nominated co-director of the documentary "Restrepo" about a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

Hetherington was born in Birkenhead England He attended the Jesuit Stonyhurst College and read Classics and English at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford in 1989. Shortly after graduation he received £5,000 from his grandmother's will, money which enabled him to travel for two years in India, China and Tibet. That trip made him realize he "wanted to make images", so he "worked for three to four years, going to night school in photography before eventually going back to college." He then studied photojournalism under Daniel Meadows and Colin Jacobson in Cardiff in 1996.

Hetherington's first job was that of a trainee at The Big Issue, in London, where he was the sole staff photographer.
Hetherington spent much of the next decade in West Africa, documenting political upheaval and its effects on daily life in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and other countries. In the Second Liberian Civil War, he and his broadcast colleague James Brabazon were the only foreign journalists to live behind rebel lines, which earned them an execution order from then-Liberian President Charles Taylor.

Hetherington won the 2007 World Press Photo competition for his picture of a tired American soldier covering his face with his hand following a day of fighting in the Korengal valley, Afghanistan. The work was made for Vanity Fair, for which he was a contributing photographer. Hetherington made several trips to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008 with writer Sebastian Junger; the two collaborated on the 2010 documentary Restrepo based on their assignment in Afghanistan. The film received the Grand Jury Prize for best documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. In 2006, Hetherington took a break from image making to work as an investigator for the United Nations Security Council's Liberia Sanctions Committee

On April 20 2011 Tim was killed by mortar shells fired by Moammar Gaddafi's forces while covering battles between rebels and Libyan government forces. He was 40. In his last tweet, Hetherington writes, "In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO." Who knows how else Tim would have reinvented and expanded the meaning of photojournalism if he had lived longer.

"Tim bore powerful witness to unimaginable battles and made them real through the lens of his camera," said ABC News president Ben Sherwood. "He leaves a legacy of unforgettable stories told through moving and still pictures."

"He was an amazing talent and special human being," Sundance Institute spokeswoman Brooks Addicott about Hetherington 

Tim’s picture of an exhausted American soldier in the Korengal Valley slumped against the ground, with his hand lying heavily across one eye like a triage bandage, won the World Press Photo of the Year Award in 2007.

child soldier taken in Liberia in 2003 by Tim Hetherington

"We wanted to bring the war into people's living room and put it into the movie theaters, and get people to connect with it. It's not necessarily about moral outrage. It's about trying to understand that we're at war and try to understand the emotional terrain of what being at war means."

Diary 2010 
Diary' is a highly personal and experimental film that expresses the subjective experience of my work, and was made as an attempt to locate myself after ten years of reporting. It's a kaleidoscope of images that link our western reality to the seemingly distant worlds we see in the media. ~ Tim Hetherington

Diary (2010) from Tim Hetherington on Vimeo.

Q&A with  Tim about his film DIARY

This film was made in 2007-8 while I was following a platoon of US Airborne Infantry based in the Korengal Valley of Eastern Afghanistan. This is a single screen version of the original 3-screen installation that was first show in New York in 2009 (the original 3-screen version was designed as an immerisve installation, and not for the small screen).

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