It was one of the most searing images of the war in Iraq: a tiny girl, splattered in blood and screaming in horror after her parents had been shot and killed by American soldiers who fired on the family car when it failed to yield for a foot patrol in the northern town of Tel Afar.
Taken by Getty Images photographer Chris Hondros, who was embedded with the patrol, the January 2005 photo offered powerful visual testimony to the horrific impact of the conflict on Iraqi citizens. It came as the American public was beginning to question the rising death toll and purpose of a war that was starting to look unwinnable.
Hondros was inured to the chaos of war. By then, he was a veteran combat photographer who had served as a witness for the world on the frontlines of conflicts in far-away places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Liberia and Sierra Leone. But Hondros wasn’t merely fueled by the adrenaline of covering war. He was there to document the impact of conflict on people, both soldiers and civilians, to discover something deeper about humanity through war.
“He tried to make sense of what was happening around him, to really understand the chaos that he often found himself in,” recalled Sandy Ciric, a longtime photo editor at Getty Images who was one of Hondros’s closest friends and colleagues. “He was a professional, and he knew it was his job to document. But he was also human. He was really affected by the people he met and the things he saw… He was always thinking and writing and shooting and working, trying to understand the terrible complexity of war and the impact it had on people.”
So it was a horrible and painful twist of fate that a photographer so determined to show the world the human impact of conflict died trying to do just that. Hondros was killed in a mortar attack along with fellow photojournalist Tim Hetherington in April 2011 while covering the war in Libya.
He left behind an adoring mother, a fiance and a tight-knit group of friends and colleagues who were devastated by his death but also determined to preserve his memory and legacy as one of the most promising photojournalists of a generation who died too soon.
It’s that career that is the subject of “Testament,” a new book of Hondros’s work published by Powerhouse Books and Getty Images (which is donating its portion of the proceeds to The Chris Hondros Fund). The book, edited by Ciric and Pancho Bernasconi of Getty Images and Christina Piaia, Hondros’s fiance, features not only images that Hondros took over more than a decade of covering conflict, but also his own words, taken from stories and essays he wrote about his experiences on the road as he sought to understand what he was seeing through his lens.
I previewed the new Chris Hondros Book, which is out today (via Yahoo News)
Inside the medevac helicopter in Afghanistan, U.S. Marine Cpl. Burness Britt bleeds profusely from his neck. He and two other Marines have just been hit by shrapnel, with Britt's injuries the most serious. The medevac crew chief clutches one of Britt's blood-covered hands as he is given oxygen. I take hold of the other.
With my free hand, I lift my camera and take some pictures. I squeeze Britt’s hand and he returns the gesture, gripping my palm tighter and tighter until he slips into unconsciousness. His shirt is ripped, but I notice a piece of wheat stuck to it. I pluck it off and tuck it away in the pocket of my body armor.
In my 20 years as a photographer, covering conflicts from Bosnia to Gaza to Iraq to Afghanistan, injured civilians and soldiers have passed through my life many times. None has left a greater impression on me than Britt.
I knew him only for a few minutes in that helicopter, but I believed we would meet again one day, and I hoped to give him that small, special piece of wheat.
As Britt underwent surgeries and painful rehabilitation, I returned to my job with The Associated Press, yet Britt was never far from my mind. I searched for him on the Internet. I called hospitals. I wondered if he remembered me.
A 2011 piece by Anja Niedringhaus on her search for a wounded Marine in Afghanistan. She was killed by an Afghan police officer while reporting in the country earlier today (via Yahoo News)
Anja Niedringhaus began working as a freelance photographer at age 17 while still in high school. In 1990, she began working full-time as a photojournalist when she joined the European Pressphoto Agency in Frankfurt, Germany.
As EPA’s Chief Photographer she spent the first ten years of her career covering the wars in the former Yugoslavia. In November 2002, Niedringhaus moved to the Associated Press as a traveling photographer. She was the only woman on a team of 11 AP photographers awarded the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography.
Today, Niedringhaus is regularly on the road covering major events for the AP when not working from her base in Switzerland. (AP)
A photographer for the Associated Press was killed and a reporter was wounded on Friday when an Afghan police officer shot each of them multiple times. The journalists were traveling with election workers in eastern Khost Province in a convoy that was protected by Afghan soldiers and police officers, according to the AP.
Anja Niedringhaus, 48, a German photographer, was killed instantly. Kathy Gannon, a Canadian reporter, is in stable condition. Both were veterans with deep experience in the region.