Often described as a conflict photographer, Hetherington’s mission was never so simple. “Trying to understand my own fascination with conflict and war has become something that’s started to focus on what it means to be a man. What is it about war that really draws men?”
The inventory of Tim Hetherington’s work and awards tells the story of an intrepid journalist and filmmaker who covered conflict and humanitarian issues at the highest levels; he was recognized as a committed human rights activist and a visionary for the issues he covered and an innovator in the media he used to describe what he saw. Hetherington was equally well known in television and film circles as he was in print with an Oscar nomination, two Emmy’s, the World Press Photo premiere award and an eclectic client list that included ABC TV, Vanity Fair, and Human Rights Watch.
After graduating from Cardiff University in 1997 with a degree in photojournalism, Hetherington experimented with multimedia, and he persistently rehearsed his pioneering approach in privately circulated multimedia pieces that ultimately culminated in his Academy nomination for the documentary “Restrepo” in 2010. Even as he walked the red carpet, he was working on the next innovation and later in 2010 he self-published “Diary,” an extraordinary manifesto of documentary narrative in a new form that broke the conventions of linear story-telling.
For Hetherington it was never enough to simply witness events, he had to experience the lives of his subjects. He spent nearly eight years working in West Africa and lived through the second Liberian civil war with unprecedented access to the rebel forces. It was this insight and passion that subsequently qualified him to work with the United Nations Security Council as an investigator for the Liberia Sanctions Committee.
In 2007 he accepted an assignment from Vanity Fair to work with writer Sebastian Junger to document the American campaign in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan. The assignment extended into a two-year study that resulted in an astonishing array of work that included traditional journalistic coverage of the Afghan war and a profound study of fighting men in the multi-screen multimedia project “Sleeping Soldiers,” a fly-poster exhibition, the book “Infidel” and the feature documentary “Restrepo.”
Hetherington died in 2011 aged 40 while covering the Libyan civil war.