The recent news that photojournalists, Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, were killed in Libya, brought back memories for me of the early 1970s when I became interested in photography. I read about different photographic styles and career paths that many took. I recall an article in a photo magazine about some courageous wartime photojournalists who died in action documenting those horrible historic events.
One award winning photojournalist was a British man named Larry Burrows. His helicopter was shot down in 1971 over Laos during the Vietnam War. There was also Sean Flynn, the son of the famous actor Errol Flynn.
But the war time photographer who stood out for me was Robert Capa. He was daring but controversial. He had a love affair with Ingrid Bergman in the 1940s. He also is credited with a famous image called The Falling Soldier, taken during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Some believe the photo was staged, since it would have been most difficult to get such a picture in those days with a still camera.
Despite the controversy, Capa was a brave and distinguished photojournalist. His work during D-Day is exemplary. He redefined the profession because his pictures were taken from the trenches, while previously war photographers had to stay far back. Ultimately, his “from the trenches” approach proved fatal. He stepped on a land mine while working on assignment for Life Magazine in 1954 during the first Indo China War in Southeast Asia.
Perhaps because of the Paparazzi, serious photojournalists are rarely given the credit they deserve. They put their lives on the line to bring us the images that we consume daily, showing the horrors of war. Those images can move people in powerful ways, such as during the Vietnam War when the still and motion images we saw in magazines and the nightly news helped turn this country against the war.
Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros should be honored and remembered for their sacrifice.