Just came across this article on the New York Times Lens Blog:
It’s a piece from Joao Silva – one of the most well known, living conflict photographers/photojournalists. He was one of the main characters in The Bang Bang Club - a book about photographers in South Africa – well worth a read.
In October 2010 (i.e. last year) he stepped on a land mine in Kandahar, Afghanistan and lost both his legs – but thankfully he lived. Due to his fame within photojournalism this made quite a splash in photography circles.
Ten months later this is is a transcript of a speech he gave earlier this month. It touches on that occasion of course, but also his thoughts and feelings on what he does, conflict photography, life ahead and other related topics. I find his straight forward no no-nonsense approach very refreshing and I could only hope that I would be the same given such an situation (which I doubt will ever happen).
It gives a very compelling answer to those that question the morals or ethics of conflict photographers.
Some compelling quotes :
Practically of loosing his legs, and getting on with life:
I guess I’ve reached the point where I’m whole again. I mean, my legs are gone. They’re never going to grow back. But you know, that’s O.K. That is actually O.K. I’m alive; I’m here. Life is far from over.
The role of photographers in conflict areas:
I’m a historian with a camera, and hopefully my pictures use the medium to capture history, or to tell a story, or to highlight somebody else’s suffering. That’s ultimately why I continue doing it, and why I want to continue doing it.
And partially the ethics:
People often ask me, “How can you stand there and watch people hack each other and take pictures?” You have to have clarity as to what your role is. If you want to help people, then you should not become a photographer. Having said that, we do help people. We help people all the time. Sometimes you help people with just the smallest of things. I’ve put people in the back of my vehicle and rushed them to the hospital.
But unfortunately, the images are so stark sometimes that people tend to think that there’s a machine behind the camera, and that’s not the case. We are all human beings. The things that we see go through the eye straight into the brain. Some of those scenes never go away.
Anyway – it’s very compelling, honest, and pragmatic writing – if you have an interest in such things – go have a read.
Who? You may ask….
And to be honest – even though I’m quite the photography fan – that was my reaction also.
I openly admit I don’t know many photography “names” and much less so current than past famous photographers. So it’s caught my attention when I’ve started to read the name of Tim Hetherington quite a bit of late – both in June’s Professional Photographer Magazine in several different articles (one about him, another about great British photographer) and just now in this article here : http://fadedandblurred.com/spotlight/photographer-spotlight-tim-hetherington/
To give you the very abridged version of why he’s made the news recently – alas Tim Hetherington was one of the journalists/photographers killed in Libya recently (20 April 2011) while covering the conflict/human rights abuses there and travelling with rebel/revolution forces.
I’m aware of the old names in this field – your Robert Capa’s and Don McCullin’s (whom I didn’t realise comes from Finsbury Park and is still alive) but not those of recent times. I only found out who Kevin Carter was after reading Bang Bang club. But is seems that Tim Hetherington has been quite the photographer, journalist and videographer – even producing a Oscar nominated film: Restrepo (!), and winning the World Press Photo competition in 2007 – something I HAVE vaguely followed
So why am I posting ? Well I guess this article just hit a chord. Partially inspiration to make a difference but also to go look up more of Tim Hetherington’s work – as well as being very talented and revered by his peers he sounded like a good person, one that wanted to make a difference to show the world what was going on. I’m not a writer so can’t write something so eloquent as that article – so I’d suggest you do go and have a read yourself – won’t take long.
In the mean time I’m going to add Restrepo to my LoveFilm list
http://www.lovefilm.com/film/Restrepo/152143/ (Trailer included)