I was already shaken by the death of Tim Hetherington (born in Birkenhead, Wirral Peninsula, UK) last spring in Misrata, Libya (along with his colleague, Chris Hondros, ©Getty photographer). He was working for Vanity Fair for instance, and I’ve been admiring his work for a few years. He was a great photographer and did major pictures in war zones.
So, when I woke up early this 22nd of february and heard that Rémi Ochlik, French photojournalist, winner of a 2012 WorldPress Photo prize for his work in Libya, died in Syria, I felt again very sad.
Many photographers were killed over the years in war zones and journalists too. Some could say that it is the risk of the job. Indeed, it is. I am sure that all those journalists and photographers whom have been killed lately, knew that fact.
They did know the risks, the fear and the obligation of their work. Obviously, we do too, but some consider that as they do know how risky it is, it’s their entire fault whenever they’ve been killed. It is NOT ! Whenever you cover a war, you know the cons and pros, but you have to. Of course, nowadays, with Internet, smartphones etc. you could easily think that journalists/photographers could stay nearby their homes and do their jobs retreating information from the inhabitants of the zone in question. But what do you do with objectivity and neutrality ? We all know that a political regime can orientate the facts and influence the information, so it is useful to get another option to let the world know.
Years ago, it was obvious that they had to go and inform the world of the situation in some countries. And I do think that they still have to go.
I admire them, all of them indeed, because I would have never had the guts to go.
Sometimes, whenever I look to a “war photo”, I feel like that a photograph should be able to go and take a picture in any circumstance and not only shooting animals, architecture and models. I thought many times that I could have done it too but I am honestly too scared not to be able to handle that risk. Call me a coward !
They were aware of that and all of them loved their lives, their families and the people. That is for people and freedom that they went to those countries to let YOU know about the casualties of war.
Do you ever really think that if Rémi Ochlik didn’t go to Libya last year, taking those photos, you would have been able to understand the horror of the civil war ? Words can do a lot of understanding and journalists do that very well, but a photo impacts you deeper. You SEE the people dying, slaughtered, tortured, in pain or smiling for hope. You can imagine it through words, you CAN SEE, FEEL and BREATH death, fear and sometimes hope.
So, please, whenever you look to a photo from a war zone, just think of the photographer whom risks his life voluntary to inform you, to let you know, to let you think and to let you free to react against that situation.
In memoriam of Tim Hetherington, Chris Hondros, & now Rémi Ochlik,
and all those whom lost their lives to inform us,
I pray for you and thank you for your sacrifice
and the love you felt for mankind.