May 19, 2011
Remembering Chris Hondros, Part IV
After Chris Hondros’s memorial service at the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary & St. Stephen church in Brooklyn, where he was to have been married this August. Over a thousand people attended. April 27, 2011. Photograph by Alan Chin
It’s hard to believe, but already one month has passed since Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington were killed on April 20 in Misurata, Libya, covering the civil war against Qaddafi. In what has been a dark season for journalists, there was good news yesterday as Global Post journalist James Foley, freelance reporter Clare Morgana Gillis and Spanish photographer Manu Brabo were all released in Tripoli and safely arrived in Tunisia, and Al-Jazeera reporter Dorothy Parvaz set free by Iran. But the sense of relief was short lived as South African photographer Anton Hammerl is now presumed dead after being shot in the stomach by Qaddafi forces in eastern Libya on April 5. The Qaddafi regime covered up this killing either at the front-line or higher levels.
We continue our series of posts of remembrance of our friend, comrade, and brother on another sad day.
In Brooklyn, looking over images by Robert Nickelsberg with Peter van Agtmael and Jason Eskenazi. March 3, 2011. Video by Mark Ovaska.
Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington were not in search of quick adrenaline. They were fulfilling their lifelong passion: documenting history as it unfolds, from the very place it matters.
Six weeks ago, I was myself on Tripoli Street, at the exact same location but with the Qaddafi forces, during a “frontline excursion,” organized by the Libyan government, all inclusive: bus trip, sightseeing, staged “spontaneous” demonstration by Qaddafi supporters specially bussed in from Tripoli to show foreign journalists that loyalist forces were in control of the city… Unfortunately for the Libyan government, fierce shooting erupted within minutes of our arrival and a hasty retreat ensued. It was a sinister farce, but luckily nobody was hurt.
Chris and Tim were real gentlemen, the crème de la crème of war reporters: experienced, brave, intelligent and talented, so talented. They were great friends, witty, funny and generous…Chris loved classical music and chess, Tim had a passion for films. My feeble words are nothing compared to the fantastic legacy they are leaving behind, that is how they should be remembered, that is how they themselves would like to be remembered.
Please, reader, have a look at their work. Then Chris and Tim will stay alive.
Chris and Tim were incredibly talented photographers, filmmakers, artists, photojournalists, writers…
Much more importantly, they were incredibly kind, considerate and humble men.
If you want to make a difference in the world but can’t make images as powerful as Tim’s or Chris’s or aren’t as brave and committed as they were, you can start much closer to home by living with the generosity of spirit that they both displayed to everyone who had the honor of meeting them.
If everyone lived as they lived, nobody would die as they died.
I have known Chris for about 10 years and while my family life didn’t always allow me to join him on covering some of the world’s events I will always remember the ones that I did whether here in New York or New Orleans for Katrina or Lebanon for their war with Israel. When Chris was there I always felt grounded and knew that I could get into an intellectual conversation ranging from Bach to a complete advanced analysis of the subject at hand. That tweed jacket would always make me laugh and was a standard no matter what the temperature. Chris to me was a JOURNALIST. Not there for awards and everything else that goes with being a globe trotting photographer. He was there to document history and he did it better than anyone. He will truly be missed and should be a role model for all those students and aspiring photojournalists wanting to make it in this crazy profession. I know he is sitting in heaven with Bach having a glass of good wine knowing he lost his life doing what he lived to do.
I have many memories and stories with Chris from over the years. This will have to do:
We met in February of 2000. There was a photo agency starting up. They hired us. Over drinks one night in Manhattan, we wondered where it might go. That was before we’d even taken a picture. Living at the Soho Grand, we covered the 9/11 aftermath. You were messy. The 2nd Intifada, Israel, 2002. We roomed together at the El Dan. When you left for the airport you called an hour later asking me to send you your passport and money, which you had left behind in a drawer, along with half your clothes. Iraq elections, 2005, when you called just a day after you took the famous photos of the little girl whose parents were killed by US soldiers at the roadblock. There had just been a suicide car bomb attack outside the Al Hamra. You asked if the hotel had cleaned the carpets in our room. I told you no, because we still had no doors or windows. You said it was not an excuse. RNC 2004. NH primary 2008. Ted Kennedy’s funeral 2009. And so many nights in NYC. We played a lot of chess. Take care Chris, we’ll play again.
Please make a donation to The Chris Hondros Fund, which will provide scholarships for aspiring photojournalists and raise awareness of issues surrounding conflict photography:
The Chris Hondros Fund
c/o Christina Piaia
75 Varick St., 5th Floor
New York, NY, 10013.
An initial version of this article included recollections from Tyler Hicks that were published in error. Mr. Hicks’s remembrance will be following in a separate post.