I am totally not up to this…Writing obits is not what I do…This will not be my best of anything. Yet, it is all I can do at the moment.
I found out yesterday, at exactly this time by text message while driving in a blinding rainstorm, that my friend and next door neighbor Tim Hetherington had been killed in Libya along with colleague Chris Hondros. Mike Brown , who lives just upstairs and featured here with his Libya work was thankfully spared…So, two men who hang with me at home, stop by for a beer from time to time, were caught in the same mortar attack and one of them gone forever. I did not know Chris Hondros, but was an admirer of his work. I write here only of my friend Tim.
Mostly Tim and I would see each other rushing in and out of the building. On the elevator. Tim with his bike. Fast chats typical in our trade. My last conversation with Tim was to congratulate him for his Oscar nomination. Gave him a hug. Told him he was a winner no matter what the outcome. Tim is a winner. Tragically gone now , but a shining light of integrity in journalism.
However, it is very difficult for me to defend right this minute the business of war photography. Tim is not the first friend I have lost like this. Richard Cross was the first, John Hoagland the second , and few now can even remember their names at all nor the war they died in or what it was about. Sure seemed important at the time. Nicaragua, Contras. Anybody know about it? Even I who was there have to really stop and remember all the details and the politics and the lies and the propaganda and the pure bullshit and a craving press that led up to those guys feeling like it was their mission and their sense of making a difference to be there with their cameras. Met Nachtwey there and he survived that and many other conflicts and I have heard his speech of justification many times. I listen.
Same with Tim. Tim Hetherington stopped by to talk to my students in the last loft class, he always came to talk to my students. He had a sense of mission as well. So yes, yes I know the peoples right to know and the documentation for the sake of the oppressed etc etc. I know the speech well. Yet, I also know the realities. I will bounce back from this anti war photography mood most likely, but this is how I feel right now. I know that conflicts must be covered, but the repetition of the realities year after year after year just gets me in the gut.
It is just so so sad, tragic, sickening that one of the few who really was trying to make a difference and one of the truly most honorable and creative men I have ever met is gone.
Tim Hetherington, I love you bro. You did what you set out to do. Nobody can ever ask for more.