Terrible news from Libya: Today, photojournalist Tim Hetherington was killed while covering the fighting in Libya. Three other photographers reportedly were wounded, one of them very severely. PDN has an obituary, including a slide show of some of Hetherington’s work. (more)
Update (20 April 2011): I will admit I am still in shock, and there might just be too many thoughts rushing through my head right now. But I have the feeling that we will remember this day as one days when photojournalism lost a very special person. This is not to minimize the work and/or achievement of any other photojournalist, especially not the work done by Chris Hondros, Guy Martin, and Michael Christopher Brown who were wounded as well, Hondros gravely. Unlike many people in Misrata who are desperate to get out (for very obvious reasons), these four photojournalists (and their colleagues also on the ground) decided to go there to bring us images to see.
I can’t escape the feeling that Tim Hetherington was a very special photojournalist, someone willing to push the boundaries, to tell stories in different ways, using different angles. As I’ve argued elsewhere it is obvious that we need to hear and see these stories.
Photojournalism suffers from various problems (business issues aside). Tim Hetherington was very actively working on ways to if not solve them then at least to show us a way out. We don’t only have to have the same “photojournalism is dead” debates over and over again. There are other options. If you look at his work (or at, for example, his film Diary), combining long-term projects with multimedia and different approaches to story-telling, you will see the dedication to give us some of those other options.
For that dedication we should be tremendously grateful, and we are well advised to learn some of the lessons that Tim Hetherington tried to teach us. He will be sorely missed.
Update 2 (20 April 2011; 5:35pm EST): Watch a recent PBS interview with Hetherington here.
Update 3 (20 April 2011; 6:20pm EST): The New York Times now reports that Chris Hondros has also died.