Today, the devastating news arrived that Tim Hetherington had been killed in Misratah, Libya. He was many things: a journalist, a photographer, a filmmaker, an artist and friend. He recently won popular acclaim after the documentary Restrepo, which he directed, was nominated for an Oscar. Tim was always trying to pull together the bits and pieces of all the news that was going on around him, to figure out how to follow them through to tell the whole story. He did that with war and, more specifically, with the men who go to war.
I first met Tim in 2006 when he showed me the photographs he took covering the civil war in Liberia. He had his share of grisly war pictures but there was a difference, a thoughtfulness to many of his images: he always revisited the aftermath, pushing himself to find something new long after the media was gone.
So much of his vision comes together in his last photo book Infidel, a project done at the same time as Restrepo. I sat down with Tim in November 2010 to put together this brief video about Infidel and how it documented the life of a U.S. platoon in Afghanistan, operating in the Korengal Valley, one of the most dangerous places on earth. He said that when people think about the “war machine” what comes to mind are images of tanks and apache helicopters, or as he said, “inanimate objects.” But, he said, “I’ve come to realize the war machine is, in fact, very human. Take a group of young men, train them together, put them on the side of a mountain and they will kill and be killed for each other.” His work on Infidel and Restrepo is the most intimate portrayal of men at war that I know; and it is a poignant testament to what Tim wanted to say.
Related: Chris Hondros In Memoriam.