Michael Kamber comments on a photograph taken in June, 2008 by Tim Hetherington, who died while on assignment in Libya earlier this year
“It’s hard to channel the words of a dead friend. Who knows what a man fallen in battle would have said, especially one as hyper-articulate as Tim Hetherington? Before his death in Libya this past April, Tim and I argued about many things, one of them being the meaning of his photos from Afghanistan of the men of the 173rd Airborne. I was interested in the mechanics of warfare.
‘My photos are not about war,’ he’d say to me—and to anyone else who would listen. ‘They’re about young men.’
Tim was interested in how war changed and molded, traumatized and hardened the soldiers. He was digging deeper—deeper than most of us, anyway. What is the motivation that pushes 20-year-old kids from middle America to go on fighting and dying half way around the world?
It was not for their country, nor to avenge 9/11, nor to free the Afghan people, he said, (though all of those things may have been true), but for one simple reason: the bonds the soldiers formed with one another.
While many other photojournalists were focused on the guns firing, (the mechanics of war), Tim took pictures of the soldiers asleep in their bunks, (“as their mothers saw them”), playing, teasing, wrestling with one another.
He peeled back the uniforms and revealed the young, vulnerable, complex men from middle-America. By coincidence, I was with some of these men from the 173rd Airborne last week. I can tell you that they adored and idolized Tim, the tall, goofy British photographer who lived with them for so many months.” See more here.
If you want to know what my book is about, this is it. Right here.
(Also, if that picture doesn’t make your heart melt right down into your toes, you should probably check for a pulse.)