Photographer and documentary filmmaker Tim Hetherington tells of his work
By Joshua Philipp for The Epoch Times
NEW YORK—He has taken a unique approach to documentary journalism: living his stories. From the battlefields of the Liberian Civil War to the front lines in Afghanistan, documentary filmmaker and award-winning photographer Tim Hetherington has experienced his stories in ways that few have.
He has seen what the rebels and soldiers have seen, marched where they marched, and shot a different element of the battle. Rather than focus his work on the carnage and violence which characterizes war, Hetherington instead turned his camera inward—toward the soldiers and the lives behind the uniforms. Young men with guns.
His art took form during the Liberian Civil War which lasted from 1999 to 2003. A friend approached him with an offer he couldn’t refuse—to live with the rebel forces, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) who would eventually remove President Charles Taylor from power and establish a new rule.
“My work is really born out, initially, as a kind of witnessing or engagement,” said Hetherington.
Rather than make a one-time visit to shoot photos of the aftermath, Hetherington returns again and again, which allows for a “perceptual process” to develop in his work, as he explains it.
“I was kind of inside the war,” he said. “I mean we lived with these guys and there was no way out. We couldn’t fly in or fly out, we lived with them. It was the rainy season, we had little food, and we lived in pretty extreme circumstances.” Hetherington was embedded with Liberian rebels with a friend and fellow journalist.