Tim Hetherington

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Tim Hetherington
Hetherington in 2011
Timothy Alistair Telemachus Hetherington

5 December 1970
Died20 April 2011(2011-04-20) (aged 40)
Misrata, Libya
Cause of deathBallistic trauma
Burial placeBrompton Cemetery, London, England
Alma mater
Years active1996–2011
Known forRestrepo (2010)

Timothy Alistair Telemachus Hetherington (5 December 1970 – 20 April 2011)[2] was a British photojournalist.[3] He produced books, films and other work that "ranged from multi-screen installations, to fly-poster exhibitions, to handheld device downloads"[4] and was a regular contributor to Vanity Fair.[5]

He was best known for the documentary film Restrepo (2010), which he co-directed with Sebastian Junger. Restrepo won the Grand Jury Prize for best documentary at Sundance Film Festival 2010[6] and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2011.[7] Hetherington won various awards including the 2008 World Press Photo of the Year.[8]

He was killed by shrapnel from either a mortar shell or an RPG fired by Libyan forces while covering the 2011 Libyan civil war.[citation needed]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Birkenhead to Judith (née Gillett) and Alistair Hetherington, Tim Hetherington was raised in Southport, where he attended St Patrick's Catholic Primary School.[9] Later he attended Stonyhurst College[10][11] and read Classics and English at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford in 1989.[12]

Shortly after graduation he received £5,000 from his grandmother's will, which enabled him to travel for two years in India, China and Tibet.[4] That trip made him realise he "wanted to make images", so he "worked for three to four years, going to night school in photography before eventually going back to college."[4] He then studied photojournalism under Daniel Meadows and Colin Jacobson in Cardiff in 1996.[13]


Hetherington at work in Huambo, Angola, 2002

Hetherington's first job was that of a trainee at The Big Issue, in London.[7][13] He was their sole staff photographer,[13] photographing homeless shelters, demonstrations, dockers' strikes, boxing gyms, celebrities, etc.[7] He was not fond of his celebrity assignments, wanting to focus on what he believed to be more serious stories.[7] He spent much of the next decade in West Africa, documenting political upheaval and its effects on daily life in Liberia, Sierra Leone,[14] Nigeria, and other countries. Hetherington worked as a photographer on the films Liberia: An Uncivil War[15] (2004) and The Devil Came on Horseback[16] (2007). In 2006, Hetherington took a break from image-making to work as an investigator for the United Nations Security Council's Liberia Sanctions Committee.[17]

Hetherington made several trips to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008 with writer Sebastian Junger, on assignment for Vanity Fair. They were embedded with a single U.S. Army platoon (Second Platoon, B Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team) serving at a remote outpost in the Korengal Valley. They filmed the 2010 documentary film Restrepo there,[18] and Afghanistan – The Other War, which was broadcast on ABC News's Nightline programme. Hetherington's book Infidel is based on the same platoon.

Hetherington (left) with Sebastian Junger in 2011.

In 2010 he directed the short film Diary:

Diary is a highly personal and experimental film that expresses the subjective experience of my work, and was made as an attempt to locate myself after ten years of reporting. It's a kaleidoscope of images that link our western reality to the seemingly distant worlds we see in the media.[19]


In a June 2010 interview for The New York Times, when asked by photojournalist Michael Kamber about Infidel, the book he did with Chris Boot that was about to be published, Hetherington commented on the level of danger he encountered when working on it:[20]

The first time I went to Afghanistan, in 2007, the world was very much focused on Iraq. People had forgotten – and now we have come to accept – that the Afghan war was going out of control. When I got to the Korangal Valley, and there was lots of fighting going on, it completely surprised me. I was gobsmacked. At the end of October 2007, 70 percent of American bombs being dropped were in that valley, and the casualty rate was at 25 percent wounded. So the images I made were very action oriented. Photojournalism. Reminiscent of classical war photography. I did that because I wanted people to see that there was a lot of fighting going on. Anyway, I go back and the fighting sort of bored me. Because when you are in a lot of combat after a while, a lot of it – you know? If you are inside a base that's being attacked, like Restrepo was, you are in a fairly good position. The likelihood of you being killed was pretty low, unless they put a mortar on you.

Hetherington was killed while covering the front lines in the besieged city of Misrata, Libya, during the 2011 Libyan civil war.[21] There appeared to be uncertainty whether he was killed by shrapnel from a mortar shell or an RPG[22] round. One report said "several Libyan rebels" were killed in the blast, and at least two other journalists survived.[23] The same attack killed photographer Chris Hondros, gravely wounded photographer Guy Martin,[24] and wounded photographer Michael Christopher Brown.[22]

A source said that the group was travelling with rebel fighters.[22] Hetherington had tweeted the previous day,

In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO.[25][26]

Hetherington survived the initial incident and was loaded into a van alive, but died due to excessive blood loss.[27]

Hetherington in 2010

Hetherington was buried in Brompton Cemetery, London, survived by his partner, parents, sister, brother, and several nieces and nephews.[28]

Just days after his death in Misrata, the Libyan city of Ajdabiya renamed its largest square after him. Anti-Gaddafi protesters also held a march to the newly renamed Tim Hetherington Square in his honour. "We have named the square after this hero and I now consider Tim as one of our martyrs," Al Jazeera quoted a Libyan surgeon in the city as saying.[29]

Senator John McCain sent two American flags to a memorial service in New York: one was given to the Hetherington family; the other was presented to filmmaker Idil Ibrahim,[23] Hetherington's life partner and co-worker at Zeila Films, where he had served as head cinematographer / director of photography.[30][31] The flags were delivered at the service by four American veterans of Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne in Afghanistan, who had been "many times ... under fire with Tim" and Junger, who wrote the account of the service.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Hetherington was in a romantic relationship with Idil Ibrahim before he was killed during the Libyan Civil War.[32]



Books by Hetherington[edit]

  • Long Story Bit by Bit: Liberia Retold. New York: Umbrage, 2009. ISBN 1-884167-73-X.
  • Infidel. London: Chris Boot, 2010. ISBN 1-905712-18-9. With an introduction by Sebastian Junger.

Books with contributions by Hetherington[edit]

  • Tales from a Globalizing World. London: Thames and Hudson, 2003. ISBN 978-0-500-28432-2. Edited by Daniel Schwartz. Hetherington contributes a short essay, "Healing Sport", and photographs with text.
  • The World's Top Photographers: Photojournalism. Brighton & Hove: Rotovision, 2006. ISBN 978-2-88893-092-1. Hetherington contributes photographs and captions. Edited by Andy Steele.

Books about Hetherington[edit]


  • 2009: Home For Good group exhibition, New York Photo Festival, NY.[42] Included Sleeping Soldiers prints and projection by Hetherington as well as work by Simon Roberts, Louie Palu, Adam Nadel, David Gray, Chris Killip, Venetia Dearden, Seba Kurtis, Lorraine Grupe, and Bruno Stevens. Curated by Foto8.[43]
  • 2009: Liberia Long Story Bit by Bit: Liberia Retold, Foto8, HOST Gallery, London, September 2009.[44]
  • 2010: Infidel, Foto8, HOST Gallery, London, September–October 2010.[45]
  • 2010: Liberia Retold and Sleeping Soldiers, Guernsey Photography Festival, May 2010.[46]
  • 2012: In Afghanistan, with Lynsey Addario, Nobel Peace Center, Oslo, Norway.[47]
  • 2013: Tim Hetherington: You Never See Them Like This, Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, September–November 2013.[48]
  • 2014: Tim Hetherington: Infidel, Photofusion, London, 22 August - 17 September 2014; resuming 1–31 October 2014. A "mixture of photographs and video, drawn from his series Infidel and Diary".[49][50]
  • 2016: Infidel, The John Lennon Art and Design Building, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK, September 2016. Photographs and video.[51]


Films by Hetherington[edit]

  • Sleeping Soldiers, 2009. Short film.[n 1]
  • Diary, 2010. Short film.[n 2]
  • Restrepo (with Sebastian Junger), 2010. Feature-length film.

Contributions to films[edit]

  • Liberia: An Uncivil War (2004).[15] Feature-length film. Hetherington contributed cinematography.
  • The Devil Came on Horseback (2007).[16] Feature-length film. Hetherington contributed cinematography.
  • Korengal (2014). By Sebastian Junger. Sequel to Restrepo. Feature-length film. Hetherington contributed cinematography and photo credits.


The Tim Hetherington Grant is awarded annually by World Press Photo and Human Rights Watch to a photographer who has participated in a recent World Press Photo Contest in order to finalise a project on a human rights theme.[52]

Sebastian Junger's documentary film Which Way Is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington (2013), backed by HBO Films, is a tribute to Hetherington.[n 3][53][54][55]

Hetherington's estate was represented by Magnum Photos.[56] He was preparing to apply to the photo agency before he died. His estate is now represented by Imperial War Museums.[57]

Tim Hetherington Trust[edit]

The Tim Hetherington Trust was set up in 2012 by Hetherington's parents Judith and Alistair,[58] with Stephen Mayes its executive director.[59][60] Its website states its mission is "to preserve the legacy of Tim's professional life as a visual storyteller and human rights advocate" including "the support and nurture of new work that continues the ideals demonstrated by Tim with special emphasis on humanitarian and social concerns".[61]

Tim Hetherington Photobook Library[edit]

The Tim Hetherington Photobook Library is a library of roughly 1200 photography books at the Bronx Documentary Center, 614 Courtlandt Avenue, Bronx, New York. It is stocked with donated books—Hetherington's parents donated his collection, whilst Aperture Foundation, Radius Books, Eugene Richards and Peter van Agtmael have also donated.[62][63]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The film is available to watch at http://vimeo.com/18395855
  2. ^ The film is available to watch at http://vimeo.com/18497543
  3. ^ The film is available to watch at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PYjh8Ue7IA


  1. ^ Siddle, John (21 April 2011). "Merseyside-Born Photographer Tim Hetherington Killed in Libya". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  2. ^ "Tim Hetherington" (Obituary), The Times, 22 April 2011, p. 70.
  3. ^ "This Man Is Not a Photojournalist". Photo District News. 2 August 2009. Archived from the original on 13 December 2010. Retrieved 1 December 2010.
  4. ^ a b c Brabazon, James (21 April 2011). "Tim Hetherington obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
  5. ^ "Contributing Photographer: Tim Hetherington"[permanent dead link]. Vanity Fair (magazine). Retrieved 2 November 2010.
  6. ^ a b Tourtellotte, Bob (31 January 2010). ""Winter's Bone", "Restrepo" Win Top Sundance Awards". Reuters. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d Brooks, Xan (21 April 2011). "Tim Hetherington: one of the finest photojournalists on the planet". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Tim Hetherington, World Press Photo of the Year, World Press Photo of the Year Archived 27 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine"
  9. ^ Griffiths, Chloe (23 April 2011). "Body of Award-Winning Merseyside Photographer Tim Hetherington Moved on Aid Ship". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  10. ^ Gammell, Caroline (21 April 2011). "Libya: Tim Hetherington's Girlfriend Pays Tribute to her 'Timinator'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  11. ^ Tim Hetherington (OS) R.I.P. Stonyhurst College website
  12. ^ Press release (21 April 2011). "Tim Hetherington (1970 –2011)". Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
    "LMH is sad to learn of the death of alumnus Tim Hetherington, 1989 Classics and English, who was killed in Misrata on Wednesday 20th April, while covering the conflict in Libya for Vanity Fair."
  13. ^ a b c Hetherington, Tim. "The Big Issue". Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  14. ^ Spencer, Richard; Collins, Nick (21 April 2011). "Libya: British Photographer Killed in Misurata – Oscar-Nominated British Photographer Tim Hetherington and His US Colleague Chris Hondros Have Been Killed While Covering the Fighting in the Libyan City of Misurata, the Foreign Office Has Confirmed". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  15. ^ a b "Liberia: An Uncivil War (2004)", New York Times. Accessed 3 July 2014.
  16. ^ a b "The Devil Came on Horseback", 3Generations. Accessed 3 July 2014.
  17. ^ "Hetherington remembered - The National". The National. 3 May 2013. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  18. ^ Chivers, C.J. (21 April 2011). "'Restrepo' Director and a Photographer Are Killed in Libya". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  19. ^ "Tim Hetherington's channel at Vimeo".
  20. ^ Kamber, Michael (22 June 2010). "Restrepo and the Imagery of War". Lens (blog). The New York Times. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
  21. ^ "Band of brothers: The lives and deaths of war photographers". CBS News Sunday Morning. 9 December 2018. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  22. ^ a b c Staff writer (22 April 2011). "Bodies of Two Photographers Killed in Libya Arrive in Benghazi". CNN. Retrieved 25 April 2011. The journalists were walking in the front-line area at the end of Tripoli Street on the western edge of Misrata when a rocket-propelled grenade exploded, according to a town resident who wanted to be identified only as "Mohammed" for safety reasons.
  23. ^ a b c Junger, Sebastian, "Legacy: Hetherington Doctrine", Vanity Fair, 3 June 2011. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  24. ^ Philip Carter (January 2015). "Hetherington, Timothy Alastair Telemachus [Tim] (1970–2011)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/103791. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)[dead link]
  25. ^ Knegt, Peter (20 April 2011). "Restrepo Director Tim Hetherington Killed In Libya (Updated)". Indie Wire. Archived from the original on 25 April 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
  26. ^ Staff writer (20 April 2011). "2 Renowned Photojournalists Killed in Libya". CBC News. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
  27. ^ Sebastian Doggart (29 January 2013). "On the front line: a documentary tribute to Tim Hetherington". Guardian News and Media Limited.
  28. ^ Staff. "Tim Hetherington profile". Associated Press (via legacy.com). Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  29. ^ Turton, Sue (22 April 2011). "Ajdabiya Honours Fallen British Photojournalist". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
  30. ^ "About Us". Zeila Films. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  31. ^ Ibrahim, Idil (11 December 2011). "Tim Hetherington remembered by Idil Ibrahim". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  32. ^ Ibrahim, Idil (11 December 2011). "Tim Hetherington remembered by Idil Ibrahim". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2022.
  33. ^ "1999, Tim Hetherington, 2nd prize, Sports stories"
  34. ^ "Tim Hetherington: An award-winning photojournalist who dedicated his life to covering conflict zones", NESTA. Accessed 29 June 2014.
  35. ^ "World Press Photo, Tim Hetherington, 1st prize, Portraits stories"
  36. ^ "Tim Hetherington". World Press Photo. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  37. ^ "World Press Photo, Tim Hetherington, 2nd prize, General News stories"
  38. ^ "The Rory Peck Trust, 20 April 2011, Libya (Winner, Rory Peck Award for Features 2008) Archived 3 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine"
  39. ^ "Aperture Exposures Blog Tim Hetherington Installation and Video on View Archived 18 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine"
  40. ^ "IAVA to Honor Restrepo Directors Sebastian Junger, Tim Hetherington at Heroes Celebration"
  41. ^ "Tim Hetherington awarded 2013 McCrary Award for Excellence in Journalism". World Press Photo. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2015.[permanent dead link]
  42. ^ "Foto8 - Home For Good Exhibition by Jon Levy, Foto8".[dead link]
  43. ^ "Foto8 at the New York Photo Festival", Foto8. Accessed 14 September 2016.
  44. ^ "Foto8 - Liberia Long Story Bit by Bit Exhibition by Tim Hetherington" Archived 11 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  45. ^ "Foto8 - Infidel Exhibition by Tim Hetherington" Archived 11 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  46. ^ "Guernsey Photography Festival : Tim Hetherington. Liberia and Sleeping Soldiers". Archived from the original on 23 September 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-05.. Guernsey Photography Festival.
  47. ^ "In Afghanistan" Archived 7 January 2017 at the Wayback Machine Nobel Peace Center
  48. ^ "Tim Hetherington: You Never See Them Like This". Open Eye Gallery
  49. ^ Tim Hetherington: Infidel, Photofusion. Accessed 25 August 2014.
  50. ^ Tim Hetherington: Infidel, PhotoFusion - exhibition review, London Evening Standard. Accessed 25 August 2014.
  51. ^ Infidel Exhibition, Tim Hetherington Trust. Accessed 14 September 2016.
  52. ^ "Tim Hetherington Grant". World Press Photo. Archived from the original on 25 September 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  53. ^ "Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington – review", The Guardian. Accessed 29 June 2014.
  54. ^ "Which Way Is the Front Line From Here? Th...", HBO. Accessed 29 June 2014.
  55. ^ "Recalling a Chronicler of Combat as It Is: Junger's Film ‘Which Way Is the Front Line From Here?' on HBO", New York Times. Accessed 29 June 2014.
  56. ^ "Tim Hetherington Visionary Award". British Journal of Photography. Incisive Financial Publishing Limited. 162 (7834): 12, 13. 2015.
  57. ^ "Tim Hetherington". Imperial War Museums. Retrieved 24 January 2022.
  58. ^ Brooks-Pollock, Tom (15 May 2013). "How Tim's eye for a picture is still helping blind African children". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  59. ^ "Images of war captured in Tim Hetherington photo exhibition", Liverpool Echo. Accessed 29 June 2014.
  60. ^ Padley, Gemma (3 February 2015). "Tim Hetherington Trust unveils new award shortlist". British Journal of Photography. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  61. ^ "Tim Hetherington". Tim Hetherington Trust. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  62. ^ "Opening Celebration & Photobook Drive: Tim Hetherington Photobook Library". Bronx Documentary Center. 14 May 2016. Archived from the original on 9 June 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  63. ^ Horaczek, Stan (13 May 2016). "Tim Hetherington Photobook Library Opens at Bronx Documentary Center". American Photo. Retrieved 16 May 2016.

External links[edit]