WAR PHOTOGRAPHY: FINE LINE BETWEEN REPORTAGE AND DEATH









YOU TUBE has removed the video of war photographer Tim Hetherington being laid out by staff at the Misrata Hospital in Libya.

The man who posted the video which also contained images of Getty photographer Chris Hondros, uploaded it in good faith, and only after much deliberation. The decision to do so took moral courage and carried a warning that it contained graphic images. Therefore, and as always, it was a personal decision whether one looked at it or not.

I saw the video before You Tube decided it was unsuitable for public viewing, a decision with which I disagree.

The images of the dead Hetherington were a closure. If you’ve ever lost someone as I have, in curious circumstances and with no corpse, there is no closure on his life. The doctors handled Tim gently and if any of his family and friends managed to see the video, they would certainly have been upset. But it was an end.

My problem with You Tube in this case, is that they allow graphic footage of wounded and dead Afghans, Africans – you name them – to be displayed, but censor respectful photos of a famous photo-journalist killed in action.

I never met Tim, but I admired his skill as a photographer and in particular his evident concern for the unfortunates displaced by warfare. I also believe he wouldn’t have minded being photographed as a dead man. He was after all, a film-maker.

May you rest in peace Tim and thank you for the many times you risked your life to depict people caught in conflict.

Tim Hetherington, 40 and Chris Hondros 41, were killed on 20 April 2011 in the battle for Misrata, Libya.

Images: Chris Hondros, Tim Hetherington, photo Chris Hondros/Getty

About Travels with My Hat

Australian photojournalist and author. Used London as a base for nearly forty years while freelancing in the Middle East, Arabian peninsular, Africa and South Asia. Have written and illustrated more than a dozen books and travel guides. Operates a well regarded religious images stock photo library: www.worldreligions.co.uk. Live in Leura in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney.
This entry was posted in Media and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to WAR PHOTOGRAPHY: FINE LINE BETWEEN REPORTAGE AND DEATH

  1. Jules says:

    Thank you Christine, this is a heartfelt tribute to Tim Hetherington about whose death I had heard on radio news, but not the second man to die, Chris Hondros. I agree with you regarding the removal of the film from YouTube and closure, it is a great shame. Perhaps his family have seen the film elsewhere? And you are right, there is an appalling amount of graphic blood and thunder on our screens every day, but that's 'News' isn't it, and perhaps it sells better.

  2. Mimi Forsyth says:

    I agree with you, Christine. What a photographer *does* is expose life, to expand our views. It's important to know, for instance, what war is like. We likely won't be in the middle of it, so the photographer helps us to know. Already governments have decided we cannot handle that truth, and we cannot see corpses, bodybags or coffins. The censorship should make us find war more acceptable? Or less unacceptable? I think Hetherington and Hondros did what they did to make us aware. And I cannot imagine they would want their own deaths censored. RIP, guys…you did good.

  3. A.Aitken says:

    Christine, when I think of your past work as a photo-journalist as a woman alone in the Middle East etc. I am so glad you no longer do this dangerous work. These brave men deserve all the recognition and gratitude given to them.

  4. Jenny Woolf says:

    A sad death. The Sunday Times ran a large selection of his best pics this week. I'm ambivalent about war photography though. And war artists. Once an image is out in the world, you don't know what will be done with it.

  5. CO says:

    Thank you for yr comment. The same can be said for any image, war or otherwise. But here we're getting into copyright which is another thread.

  6. I think Hetherington and Hondros did what they did to make us aware. And I cannot imagine they would want their own deaths censored. getit search app , getit mobile app , mobile search app

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I've just come across this post on your blog.I am wondering whether you mean this footage in these videos? one has english translation, the other does not. But in the one without, you can clearly see Hetherington towards the end of the film. He's still conscious, but in shock.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkUXUCvugPU&t=1m47shttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiFgcDFTf_Y&t=1m26s

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.