Two Takes: One Picture, Two Photographers

Guy Martin—Panos (left); Tim Hetherington—Magnum (right)
Guy Martin—Panos (left); Tim Hetherington—Magnum (right)
February 17, 2011. The body of a rebel fighter waits to be collected for burial from the Al-Hekma hospital. Libya saw the beginnings of a revolution against the 41 year regime of Muammar Gaddafi.

The romantic notion is that photojournalists bear unique witness to the events of the world as they unfold around them. In reality, due to circumstance, comfort and organizational requirements, photographers often find themselves in the company of fellow photojournalists, working side by side, when covering the news.

Camaraderie builds between photographers, particularly those working in the war zone. They travel together, discuss their work and often become close friends. They have a mutual respect and share a common bond: their experience of the discomforts and dangers that such work entails.

Photojournalists have always worked in close proximity on foreign assignments and most notably when covering conflict in which they face the dangers this work brings. Robert Capa, Gerda Taro and Chim (David Seymour) famously did so when making their photographs of the Spanish Civil War, including the Mexican Suitcase negatives. In fact, a number of these photographs—that had actually been shot by Taro—were for decades wrongly attributed to Capa.

In 1971, Larry Burrows was killed alongside fellow photojournalists Henri Huet, Kent Potter and Keisaburo Shimamoto—while photographing the Vietnam war—when their helicopter was shot down over Laos.

Mahmud Hams—AFP/Getty Images

Foreign photographers take cover from tear gas during clashes with riot police along a road which leads to the Interior Ministry, near Tahrir Square, in Cairo on November 23, 2011. Several thousand Egyptians rallied in Tahrir Square demanding an end to military rule, despite a promise by the country's interim leader to transfer power to an elected president by mid-2012.

This March, photographers Lynsey Addario and Tyler Hicks were two of four New York Times journalists kidnapped, beaten and held captive for six days by pro-Gaddafi forces while working in the Libyan city of Ajdabiya.

When photographers Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were tragically killed, and fellow photographer Guy Martin seriously injured—on April 20 this year— in Libya, they were working side by side covering the rebel fight for Mistrata.

Although both Hetherington and Martin made many distinctive photographs in Libya, there were occasions when they found themselves in the same place at the same time and drawn to taking the same picture. A few months earlier,  both Hetherington and Martin had taken a similar, quite and solemn image as each other—of a dead rebel fighter. This image, as with many others shot in duplicate, is more akin to a forensic or still life study—like the aftermath of flooding or bullet holes in a wall.

In the war-zone, or amid protests and riots, there is often less time for contemplation. Images are captured in a fleeting moment—whether it’s a rocket being fired, a barking dog or a jet of pepper spray—and these photographs show that the photographers who took them were not alone.

In many cases today, photographers working in such close proximity are doing so to satisfy the insatiable appetite of the news cycle. Due to deadlines, images are filed almost immediately after they are shot. This, and the fact that photographers are often working for competing news agencies, makes it impossible for them to share their images or avoid duplication. When international journalists were put up at the five-star Rixos hotel in central Tripoli by Gaddafi’s government earlier this year, the situation resulted in guided tours that left little opportunity to make anything but similar images to each other.

From the Libyan war to the Bangkok floods, LightBox shares a small selection of photographs by some of the most accomplished photojournalists working today. Colleagues who, on occasion, over the past 12 months have found themselves in the same place, at the same time, shooting in stereo.

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