Tim Page (photographer)
Page, aged 64 at a 2009 exhibition in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
25 May 1944
Tunbridge Wells, England
|Occupation||Writer, war correspondent|
Page was born on 25 May 1944 in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. He left England in 1962 making his way overland driving through Europe, Pakistan, India, Burma, Thailand and Laos. Without money in Laos, he found work as an agricultural advisor for USAID. He began work as a press photographer in Laos stringing for UPI and AFP, having taught himself photography. His exclusive photographs of an attempted coup d'état in Laos in 1965 for UPI got him a staff position in the Saigon bureau of the news agency. He is celebrated for his work as a freelance accredited press photographer in Vietnam and Cambodia during the 1960s, also finding time to cover the Six-Day War in the Middle East in 1967. Due to a near-death experience in the early 60s, he came to view his life as "free time". This led him to take photographs in dangerous situations where other journalists would not venture. Similarly, Page was captivated by the excitement and glamour of warfare, which helped contribute to the style of photographs he is acclaimed for.
By late 1965 Page was sharing a house at 47 Bui Thi Xuan, Saigon with Leonardo Caparros and fellow correspondents Simon Dring, Martin Stuart-Fox and Steve Northup, known as "Frankie's House" after the resident Vietnamese houseboy. Frankie's House became a social club for a group correspondents between field assignments and their friends with large quantities of drugs being used there. Page himself does not shy away from the drug culture he was involved in during his time in Vietnam, devoting a large amount of his book Page after Page to it. In Dispatches, Michael Herr wrote of Page as the most "extravagant" of the "wigged-out crazies running around Vietnam", due in most respects to the amount of drugs that he enjoyed taking. His unusual personality was part of the inspiration for the character of the journalist played by Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now.
Page was injured in action four times. The first, in 1965, was in Chu Lai where he was struck by shrapnel in the legs and stomach; the second was in Da Nang during Buddhist riots (1966), where he received more shrapnel wounds to the head, back, and arms; the third in August 1966 happened in the South China sea, where he was on board the Coast Guard cutter Point Welcome, when it was mistaken for a Viet Cong ship, and U.S. Air Force pilots strafed the vessel, leaving Page adrift at sea with over two hundred wounds. Lastly, in April 1969, Page jumped out of a helicopter to help load wounded soldiers. At the same time, a sergeant stepped on a mine close by, sending a 2-inch piece of shrapnel into Page's head. This list of injuries led his colleagues in the field to joke that he would never make it to 23 years of age. He spent the next year in the United States undergoing extensive neuro-surgery. During recovery he became closely involved with the Vietnam Veterans peace movement[vague] and worked as a caregiver for amputees, traumatically shocked and stressed young men. One of these was Ron Kovic.
On 9 December 1967, Page was arrested in New Haven, Connecticut along with fellow journalists Mike Zwerin and Yvonne Chabrier at the infamous Doors concert where Jim Morrison was arrested onstage. Charges against all four were dropped due to lack of evidence.
In the 1970s Page worked as a freelance photographer for music magazines such as Crawdaddy and Rolling Stone. During his recovery in the spring of 1970 he learnt of the capture of his best friend, roommate and fellow photo-journalist Sean Flynn in Cambodia. Throughout the 1970s and 80s he tried to discover Flynn's fate and final resting place and wanted to erect a memorial to all those in the media who either were killed or went missing in the war. This led him to found the Indochina Media Memorial Foundation and was the genesis for the book Requiem, co-edited with fellow Vietnam War photographer Horst Faas. Page's quest to clear up the mystery of Flynn's fate continues; as late as 2009 he was back in Cambodia, still searching for the site of Flynn's remains.
Page's book Requiem contains photographs taken by all of the photographers and journalists killed during the Vietnamese wars against the Japanese, French and Americans. Requiem has become since early 2000 a travelling photographic exhibition placed under the custody of the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film. The exhibition has been presented in Vietnam's War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, as well as in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Tokyo, Hanoi, Lausanne, and London. In 2011, it was selected to be the main exhibition of the Month of Photography Asia in Singapore.
Page is the subject of many documentaries and two films, and is the author of many books. He lives in Brisbane, Australia and no longer covers wars. He is Adjunct Professor of Photojournalism at Griffith University.
I had died. I lived. I had seen the tunnel. It was black. It was nothing. There was no light at the end. There was no afterlife. Nothing religious about any of it. And it did not seem scary. It was a long, flowing, no-colour wave which just disappeared. The mystery was partly resolved, all the fearful church propaganda took on its true, shameful meaning. I was content. I was alive. I was not dead, and it seemed very clear, very free. This was the dawning, the overture to losing a responsible part of my psyche. A liberation happened at that intersection. Anything from here on would be free time, a gift from the gods— concerning his near-death experience following a 1960 motorcycle accident)
In the 2010–2011 Queensland floods, Page's archives in his basement were damaged, highlighting at the time the need for a longer-term home for what he estimated were three-quarter of a million images accumulated over his 45-year career.
- Tim Page's Nam (1983)
- Sri Lanka (1984)
- Ten Years After: Vietnam Today (1987)
- Page after Page: Memoirs of a War-Torn Photographer (1988)
- Derailed in Uncle Ho's Victory Garden (1995)
- Mid Term Report (1995)
- Requiem (1997)
- The Mindful Moment (2001)
- Another Vietnam (2002)
Selected films about Page
- Danger on the Edge of Town (1991) – a film on Page's search to discover the fate of his friends Sean Flynn and Dana Stone who disappeared in Cambodia in 1970
- Frankie's House – a 1992 British/Australian miniseries, portrayed by Iain Glen
- Vietnam's Unseen War (Pictures from the Other Side)
- Mydans, Seth (18 June 2010), "Combing Cambodia for Missing Friends", The Saturday Profile, The New York Times.
- Tim Page, Page after Page (Glasgow, 1989), p. 31.
- Kevin Jackson, "Tim Page: Pictures of War and Peace", The Independent, 20 October 2001.
- Laurence, John (2001). The Cat from Hue. Public Affairs. pp. 295–314. ISBN 1586481606.
- Michael Herr, Dispatches (London, 1978), pp. 189–191.
- Gaby Wood, '"Mourning Vietnam", The Observer, 23 September 2001.
- Herr, Dispatches, pp. 185–191, 197–199.
- Herr, Dispatches, p. 200.
- Manzarek, Ray (1999). Light My Fire. Berkley Trade. p. 272. ISBN 978-0-425-17045-8.
- "Horst Faas: Horst Faas, who has died aged 79, was an award-winning photographer best known for his arresting images of the Vietnam War". The Daily Telegraph. 11 May 2012.
- Page, Page after Page, p. 31.
- Noble, Christopher, "Tim Page needs home for his photo archive", MarketWatch, 13 February 2011. Retrieved 9 August 2011.