Tim Hetherington, without a doubt stands high among the elite of war photographers.
There is no way that one can possibly encompass the magnitude of an individual within the pages of a single book. Alan Huffman makes that attempt with his biography Here I am: The Story of Tim Hethergington, War Photographer.
Tim Hetherington's life was cut short after being injured from a mortar blast while covering the Libyan Civil War between Gaddafi troops and the rebels in Misrata. In his book, Alan Huffman tells Hetherington’s story along his career milestones through prize winning portraits of Liberian children to the celebrated portraits of U.S. soldiers sleeping in Afghanistan. Here I Am describes not only his work within the conflicting areas, but also the humanitarian side. It is easy to focus on Hetherington as a camera wielding conflict photographer, it's is quite another to show how he took horrible situations and lifted them higher to raise awareness across the globe.
Hetherington’s dedication was not only in photographing the state of unrest in the countries he was in, but also how he shined humanitarian light onto the issues unfolding all around him. A lot of photojournalist and writers might rush out of the way once their job is wrapped, Hetherington would stick around and continue to help the affected areas. After the civil war was over in Liberia, West Africa, Hetherington lived there for three more years helping the United Nations track down human rights criminals.
The book focuses on the career of Hetherington as a war photographer, but what stands out aside from the stories of war are the stories about his true character as a human being. With each position in the globe Hetherington touched lives from his presence in the war torn towns and countries. The stories are anything short of amazing how he helped the local people in all of the areas who were affected by the horrible things happening around them through his camera. This book attempts to wrap up the later life of Tim Hetherington and his conflict coverage, I don't think one book or one author could possibly fit any human's story into those parameters (just like this post attempting to write about this book), but Huffman did a great job with his writing. I would highly, highly recommend reading this even if they are not in our field.
Tim Hethergington's life work is quite astounding. His film Restrepo, which was co-filmed with Sebastian Junger, was nominated for an Oscar back in 2011. His footage has been featured in The Devil Came On Horseback and Liberia: The Uncivil War. He is the recipient of four World Press Photo awards including the World Press Photo of the Year in 2007 and an Alfred I. duPont Award in broadcast journalism while on assignment with Sebastian Junger for ABC News in 2009. HBO recently released Which Way To The Front Line From Here, and is a wonderful look at the story of Tim Hetherington and should be watched.
Some of the praises for Here I Am: The Story of Tim Hetherington, War Photographer
“I don’t think I fully understood how brave my good friend Tim Hetherington was until reading these pages. Not only does Huffman bring Tim back to life his brilliant work, his extraordinary vision but he also leads us through some of the most harrowing combat of our generation. His description of the siege of Misrata should be read by anyone who imagines they understand war or courage, or fear. For all my time as a war reporter, I don't think I fully understood those things until reading Huffman's incredible book.”—Sebastian Junger
“[Huffman] investigates not only the significant life of his subject, whom he admires greatly, but also the craft of the war photographer and the tensions and contradictions involved . . . Huffman excels at heightening the drama, depicting the rapid-fire action and constant danger of working among soldiers and guerrillas engaged in battle.”—The Boston Globe
“Huffman looks at what it means to be a war reporter in the 21st century through the lens of the iconic Hetherington’s life, looking at his early work—prize-winning photographs of Liberian children—to his Oscar-nominated documentary “Restrepo” . . . to the mortar blast in Libya that cut his life short.”—New York Post (Required Reading)
“[Here I Am] captures the unflinching life of war photographer Tim Hetherington. . . . Huffman re-creates the suspense of battle, the tension between competing photographers who, by nature, are judgmental of one another’s approach to depicting war; he builds detailed characters of Libyan ambulance drivers, fighters, and commanders as successfully as he depicts the contentious clique of photographers.”—Lynsey Addario, Daily Beast
“Huffman vividly chronicles the short life of a man drawn to danger zones to capture the horrors of modern warfare.”—Los Angeles Times
“A powerfully written biography . . . titled Here I Am in reference to a moment that Hetherington finds himself in his own viewfinder, reflected back in a mirror. This is poignant imagery and metaphor for the entire body of this extraordinary artist and humanist’s life.”—Huffington Post
“Celebrate[s] Tim Hetherington’s life . . . recount[s] his last days in Libya in excruciating detail.”—TIME