I’ve been debating with myself over the past week whether or not to write a post on the subject of the loss of Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros. I did not known these men personally. I coincidentally know many of their friends very well but I had never been lucky enough to meet them myself. I knew of Tim due to his reputation within photojournalism but I am afriad I was not familiar with the work of Chris Hondros before the tragic events in Libya on 20th April. I was deeply saddened in knowing the world of photojournalism had lost these two men. Having seen many of the heartfelt dedications coming out to these men from close friends and colleagues, I felt it was inappropriate for me to comment since I did not know them.
I felt I needed to write this post today however, as last night I finally had the opportunity to watch two pieces of work by Tim Hetherington that I felt compelled to share here. The first, is the movie Restrepo, made by Hetherington and his co-director, Sebastian Junger. Set in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan, the movie focuses on the lives of one platoon whom the filmamkers followed for a year, documenting their engagements and experiences dealing with war. To say it’s a powerful film is an complete understatement. It’s one of the most powerful movies about war I have ever seen.
The second piece of work that I felt compelled to share was ‘Sleeping Soldiers’, a conceptual piece by Hetherington focusing on images he has taken, literally of sleeping soldiers, overlayed with video footage of combat situations in Afghanistan. The resulting piece of work is what I believe is a pardigm-shift in storytelling from a photojournalism perspective. It’s hard not to be engaged and at the same time disturbed when watching this short piece. I felt like I was being thrust into the traumatic and turbulent dreams that men who suffer war must endure. I have never seen work like this before presented in such a way.
So, as a small dedication to these men I can only offer links to their work and spread the messages that they were trying to communicate to the world. This is what we as photographers and storytellers all try to do. Spread the word. Tell untold stories. Illuminate darker places. Work for some kind of change for the good. These two men were at the forefront of our industry trying to do that.