only the good die young..

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.

100 Responses to “only the good die young..”

  • ..yes..
    thoughts for tims real, and surrogate, families..

  • David, I am so sorry for your loss. Although I never knew Tim, I knew his work and it was inspirational how committed he was to producing striking images and following his heart in life. I’ve been keeping a continually updated blog of links to the sad news of yesterday, which I have added this to. I hope that is okay. The link is

    Tim’s work was due to be shown at the Look11 photography festival in May this year. The festival theme is A Call To Action. Paul Lowe (of LCC) had curated the show Tim’s images were in – work made in Libya, away from the front line. I contacted Stephen Snoddy, the festival’s artistic director when I first heard the news (part of my reason for making the blog list of links) and the festival are seeking ways in which he can be remembered more formally during the festival, in addition to his work being shown.

    Everybody I have spoken to in the last 24 hours has been devastated by this. I even have friends who, unknown to me previously, had been at school with Tim, at the Bluecoat in Liverpool. It has come as a shock to all.

    My best thoughts go out to Guy Martin who, last I heard, had been stabilised but whose condition was still critical. Also to Michael Brown, and to the friends and family of all involved in this. There are no words for this.

  • David I totally agree with you and it is such a sad loss. I have the utmost admiration for those who put themselves in harms way just to educate the world of its many atrocities. But how much negativity does one need to see. As a photographer I try to document the positive aspects of life which many enjoy seeing but I am curious as to why the large organizations such as Magnum choose not to recognize or if they do, give it very little recognition. I’ve been battling this “positive war” for many years and will continue to do so. God’s speed for those who have passed trying to do what they thought was best.

  • Well said DAH.

    Speedy recovery to Mike and Guy, and may Tim and Chris Rest In Peace.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    “A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”
    Lao Tzu

    today we celebrate …OUR TRAVELERS…wherever you are,WE love YOU!!!

  • Thank you for sharing David.

  • hearts

  • Said it in the other thread, but bears repeating…

    Condolences to all who lost a friend…

    As for war work, I trust that’s what they wanted to do and that they accepted the responsibility. In the end, I can accept the idea that the cause that one dies for is either meaningless or a meaningful, but find it impossible to imagine anything in between. But cause aside, a human death is as meaningful as the life and feelings of the loved ones left behind. In that regard, it seems Tim had a very meaningful existence.

  • David

    ” it is very difficult for me to defend right this minute the business of war photography”

    The news industry is actually the bad news industry. I do appreciate the arguments why all this is necessary, but I have never understood why people put themselves in harms way to feed the beast.
    Perhaps, in this age of cell-phone cameras and the internet, it will be enough to let the people involved tell their own stories.
    Hell, what do I know. All I know is that there are a lot families and friends out there grieving right now.
    My sympathy goes out to all of them.

  • I was sorry to hear about the loss of such dedicated and admirable warriors for humanity. And sorry for your loss, now that I know you were a friend. Thanks for sharing. M

  • David, I’m sorry for the loss of your friend. Un abbraccio.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    MR.HARVEY…you do write BUT you are writing Orbits…like the Galactocentric one !

    SPACECOWBOY…more friends are coming your way…
    it seems …not even the sky is the limit…

    keep it up,be strong and don’t forget WE love you!!!

  • Does anyone remember Panos arm-twisting us to see Restrepo a few months back? It was the first thing I thought of when I heard the news of Tim Heatherington on the radio yesterday. My second thought was how Panos would have been devastated by this tragedy.

    It comes as a surprise to read of the personal relationships Tim had with so many here – David, Panos, Bob…Erica? – and I cannot help but consider the sorrow you feel. In my relationship here as a student of all, I’m giving special consideration at this time to those Heatherington mentored, and those he somehow otherwise influenced. I think of the way family and friends give advice, by way of a gentle nudge or a kick in the pants, and how there is that similar relationship with our teachers.

    I’ve lost my share of teachers and have a special place in my heart for them; I offer my sympathies to those in that situation now.

  • have been unable to write for 2 days…could hardly sleep….will try to write something later tonight…..yes, i knew and spoke with tim, first via emails (through ls and then after his wpp win)…heart sick, really heart sick…..for now, only what i left last night on his facebook page….

    for now, i will only repeat what erica and david and panos have shared, he was not only a first class photographer and filmmaker, but most importantly, he was a gentle, beautiful, caring human being….fighting with the desire not to write, but to make peace with something simple…my thoughts, primarily, at the moment are for his family…..

    shall try to do something later….

    hugs, big ones, and much love to david, erica, tanquay, panos….and those who knew/met him……

    for tim:

    I Think Continually Of Those Who Were Truly Great

    I think continually of those who were truly great.
    Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history
    Through corridors of light where the hours are suns
    Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
    Was that their lips, still touched with fire,
    Should tell of the Spirit clothed from head to foot in song.
    And who hoarded from the Spring branches
    The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.

    What is precious is never to forget
    The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs
    Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth.
    Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light
    Nor its grave evening demand for love.
    Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother
    With noise and fog the flowering of the spirit.

    Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields
    See how these names are fŠted by the waving grass
    And by the streamers of white cloud
    And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
    The names of those who in their lives fought for life
    Who wore at their hearts the fire’s center.
    Born of the sun they traveled a short while towards the sun,
    And left the vivid air signed with their honor.

    -stephen spender

  • … i meet Tim when he came to the loft workshop in 09 …i think he was editing restrepo then … he showed us his Liberia work and spoke about producing multimedia for installations and the internet ………. RIP TIM ….

  • Guy Martin now “serious, but stable” –

    Just saw the link. I’m no angel, but I’m praying for him.

  • no comment for now…im still in denial…

  • I never new Tim but thought his work was wonderful and I’m saddened by his death.

    More and and a sweat interview with Brendan O’Byrne at the bottom.

  • A real shame and a real loss. But I get the feeling these two would not have us mourn for them – they must have known, working where they do (did) that this is almost inevitable – what would make them immortal when their subjects, so close at hand, are not? And if it isn’t a stray bullet, RPG, what have you, it could just as easily be a helicopter or auto crash, or catching a deadly disease.

    What is troubling is this need for photographers to travel in groups and this need for all to get in on the action. An errant mortar (god knows this could have easily been a case of “friendly fire” looking at how the rebels operate) takes out four photographers instead of one, and since there’s pics of Chris at work by yet another photographer that day it seems there were others about as well. Just how many photographer’s does it take to cover this? Supposedly there’s safety in numbers, but is that true?

    I always wanted to be a war photographer, which comes from a seemingly karmic fascination with war history, esp WWII. It’s a young man’s game and it just wasn’t in the cards for me – one needs to be fit, committed (fully), very brave, and very very foolish. The thought of hot metal flying overhead can be exciting/compelling in a twisted sort of way – until the thought of that metal hitting flesh, esp yours, makes one sick to the stomach. I’m sure life is anything but boring on the front lines of a conflict. But at what cost….

    I’m sure if I lived and worked in NY I would have met and maybe even have gotten to know Tim. His photography was unique amongst the pack, and Restrepo about as perfect a documentary on the experience of warring as one could make.

    Alas, as David says above, they aren’t the first and won’t be the last. But I think they would want us (at least those who didn’t know them personally) to mourn for the victims in their photos before we weep for them. At least that’s the spirit I take away from their work… rest in peace Tim and Chris H.

  • You’re not alone Panos.
    As I said in the other thread, nobody wants it all to be true. I still see Tim laughing with my girl at my stupid joke…
    People like Tim are rare, this is why they touch so many many lives (some never met him and yet feel a strong sense of loss), and this is why it is so tough to realize the tragic truth. I prefer denial it never lasts…

  • Panos, Erica, DAH, et al

    So sad and hard to lose a friend. Hang in there, and don’t be afraid to grieve – in public or in private. Or denial – whatever works.


  • it’s completely understandable that so many of us had some form of contact with tim – he made himself accessible in a genuine and friendly, positive and level way.. a genuine talent – a genuine human being.

    on war photography – there is a trend.. a vastly disproportionate number of journalists have been targeted in the recent middle eastern uprisings.. and while local residents with mobile phones are as susceptible to visiting journalists, it is the visiting journalists who seem to hit us hardest.. particularly when we relate and empathize with them on another level.

    and so, documenting wars is becoming more dangerous – perhaps as the psychology of propaganda and political will to control the media has been honed..

    none of that makes this easier.
    RIP all who’ve tried to get the news out..

  • David, thanks for writing this. I’ve been holding you in my heart since I heard of Tim’s death. Many many people will miss the man, lots who never met him in person. But those of you who loved him are the ones who will never forget. As you say, time will pass and no one will even remember what was going on in Libya in April 2011, why photojournalists were there, or even the names of those who lost their lives doing what they felt was their mission. But their photographs and films will live on, especially those of such gifted humanitarians as Tim and Chris.

    I, for one, will always associate George Bush’s disastrous war against Iraq with Chris’s photo of the blood-spattered little girl sitting on the floor crying for her parents who had been shot and killed at a checkpoint by American troops. I didn’t even remember that Chris Hondros was the photographer, but as long as I live, I will never forget that child. To me, she epitomizes the sadness of this violent means that men safe in their top-level government offices use to argue their points.

    I’m not saying that Chris’s life was worth that image but I am saying that he knew the risks he was taking and consciously chose to go ahead. I’m sure for Tim it was the same. And for all the others who have been lost as they pursued their passion. War is hell and war photography is hell. None of it makes sense. But without people like Tim and Chris the rest of us would stay ignorant of the cost of the decisions our elected officials make for us…decisions that all too many of us support with our votes.

    Ah well, enough said. Please know I with you, David, as you suffer Tim’s loss. May you find comfort.


  • Almost Dawn in Libya: Chris & Tim, Heading Home.
    We’re numb here as the clock nears 4:30 a.m., and we’re not quite sure what to do. The deaths of Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington on Tripoli Street still seem unreal. Bryan just walked off from the little space we’ve been huddled in, working. He’ll sleep soon, I hope. The work kept us busy enough to hold the worst of the feelings away. But now the work is almost done, and it will hit again with the same shock as the first word.

    Before that happens, a few words should be typed.


    Everyone who admires Chris and Tim, and everyone who loves them, has a debt of gratitude to Human Rights Watch and to the International Organization for Migration, who together, on extremely short notice, bent the world to get Chris’s and Tim’s remains on the Ionian Spirit, the evacuation vessel that by chance was briefly in Misurata port tonight. The vessel delayed its departure to take them aboard and begin their journeys out. Tim was brought down first, while Chris clung to life. When Chris died, there seemed no time to get him there. But HRW worked the phones, pleading by satellite call to the pier to have the ship held up again. They simultaneously urged one of Chris’s and Tim’s colleagues at the triage center to get Chris’s remains en route through the besieged city by ambulance, assessing — correctly as it turned out — that if they could honestly say that he was on his way that no captain would leave the pier.

    They were right. Chris and Tim are at sea now, heading toward Benghazi, which means, in the indirect but solemn ways that the fallen travel from battlefields, that they are heading home.

    One more thing must be said. None of this would have happened without Andre Liohn, the colleague in the triage tent mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Andre worked all afternoon and night to get word out about Chris and Tim, who are lost, and Mike and Guy, who are wounded. At the end, it was Andre who tended to the details at the hospital to put them in motion toward their families. Without Andre, Chris and Tim would still be in Misurata, in conditions I do not care to describe. Their friends and families would know little, and Chris and Tim would have been off-the-grid, and hard to reach, and the delays in their travel would have been painful for all who want them back. Andre was a savior tonight. He brought hope and humanity to a chaotic, devastating day.

    If you want to know a little more of Andre, let me say this: When I spoke to him a short while ago, I asked if he has been wearing his flak jacket, which I had carried into Misurata for him last week. Tripoli Street is a hell of flying bullets and shrapnel, and he’s on it almost every day. No, he said, I am not wearing it. I asked why not. “I gave it to an ambulance driver,” he said.

    These are the organizations and the people — HRW, IOM, Andre — who make it possible to imagine, on days like these, that we are people still, just as Chris and Tim did in the work that defined their lives.

  • “…Everyone who admires Chris and Tim, and everyone who loves them, has a debt of gratitude to Human Rights Watch and to the International Organization for Migration, who together, on extremely short notice, bent the world to get Chris’s and Tim’s remains on the Ionian Spirit…”


  • It’s taken years for those my and DAH’s generation to get over the deaths of Larry Burrows, Henri Huet, Kent Potter and Keisaburo Shimamoto, when their helicopter was shot down over Laos. And that was 1971. War IS hell and I can only agree with Dave that “only the good die young”. Say a prayer or give a moment of silence for our brothers and sisters who are in harms way every day.

  • sorry for your loss, DAH..
    i’m sorry for every single beautiful valuable life lost to the stupidity called war.

    safe journey to all the deceased.
    om mani padme hum.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    just a question…Do you know if their families need any help…like to set up an account…
    any kind of help…I know,it may sound weird…But as a civilian who has been around for a long time…
    I have to ask…
    P.S…together we can do miracles…most of the time.

  • To David and all those others who frequent here:

    My condolences. We all feel the loss, but as his personal friends, you feel it in depth. I am so very sorry. I have been asking myself the same question, been leaning towards believing that given the quality and depth of the work, the need for us all to know and the fact that they very well knew the risks and accepted them, that their sacrifice means something.

    But your words are strong, your points true. I don’t know. I now can’t imagine the world without the photos your friend took – but then I will never be able to imagine the world with the photos that he might still be taking had he followed another course.

  • First line should have read:

    To David and all those other friends of Tin Heatherington and Chris Hondros who frequent here:

  • Lustig notes that support for freelance photographers who get injured in hot spots while they are between assignments are mostly at the mercy of friends and acquaintances for help. “We as an agency don’t have insurance policies for our freelancers. We offer what support we can, and we’ll offer as much support as we can when he gets back. Thankfully these situations arise rarely, but it’s really up to the freelancer to make sure they have their medical insurance in place.”

  • Martin has been in Libya for about a month, and was working without an assignment yesterday when he was injured, says Lustig, a friend of Martin’s. Panos has been representing Martin on an informal basis in recent months. Panos also represented Hetherington.

  • “We as an agency don’t have insurance policies for our freelancers. We offer what support we can, and we’ll offer as much support as we can when he gets back.


  • thank FI for the PDN link..


  • He (MARTIN) suffered extensive injuries to his legs and abdomen when he was hit by shrapnel from the mortar attacks. A statement issued today by his mother, Karen Martin, and his partner, Polly Fields, described his condition as “stable [but] very critical.”

    again and sorry for yelling out loud

    we gotta do something
    we gotta do something

  • Lustig explains that the region is considered too dangerous to send in a medevac helicopter, so Martin cannot be moved sooner.

  • Panos, Guy Martin is from the UK, if I’m not wrong, healthcare system might be different than in the US…

  • Panos – Guy Martin is British-based, so his medical costs within his own country should be covered by the NHS and are therefore free. That said, I don’t know his situation regarding any bills incurred abroad, or if there is extra care which “falls beyond the remit” of the NHS, and there is also the fact that he will not be earning while he (hopefully, I’m still hopeful for the guy) recuperates, so I agree, we should help in whatever way that we can.

    If it helps clarify the situation any, medical-unemployed benefits for those in the UK start at £46 per week, going up to £96 later (after uh about 18 months, I think). That’s $76-$156 per week. It isn’t a massive amount. Initial sick pay usually comes from your company at whatever your previous wage was, but in Guy’s case, I expect this isn’t applicable.

  • Sorry Eva, we cross-posted. Yup, the NHS provides free health care. Some stuff you do have to pay for though, if they deem it “not necessary to fulfilling your life chances” which, given Cameron is presently cutting the NHS budget very severely is rather worrying. But his immediate care will be seen to.

  • I think we all feel a sense of loss. I did not know Tim or Chris but I have friends who knew them very closely.
    I feel sad for their families, their friends and the photo community that lost two colleagues who were not only talented photographers but wonderful human beings.

  • ok, Eva, Framers..thank you..
    im sooooooo glad he is not from here (US)…medical bills/gangsters would take advantage…
    ok, i feel a little better now..phew

  • Panos:

    “im sooooooo glad he is not from here (US)…medical bills/gangsters would take advantage…”

    Yes, indeed.

  • unfortunately Bill…the whole world knows about our healthcare system:(

  • I didn’t plan to click on Burn today – a finger had it’s on mind – often does. What a range of feelings, loss, emotions – DAH – sending a hug as a friend would do – the world has lost at least two voices it needs more then ever –

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