joseph duo a liberian militia commander loyal to the government a picture

You Can't Do War Photography From a Distance

With the release of a stirring documentary about the late photojournalist Chris Hondros, FOTO remembers some of his most searing images.

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

All photos by Chris Hondros/Getty Images

As a photographer working in the world's most difficult and dangerous places, Chris Hondros had the uncanny ability to connect the people embroiled in far-flung and often obscure conflicts to those seeing his pictures from the comfort of their couch. He covered most of the world's major conflicts since the late 1990s, including brutal wars in Kosovo, Angola, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Iraq, Liberia, and Libya.

Hondros was killed while on assignment in Misrata, Libya on April 20, 2011, at age 41, struck by an RPG fired by Gaddafi's forces.

The documentary "Hondros," now available on major streaming services, retraces the long path of Hondros' career. In the film, director Greg Campbell (a childhood friend of Hondros) shares the little-known backstories that accompany some of his most influential photographs.

Here, Hondros' thoughts on photography are presented along with some of his images.

October 2009 - Paktika Province, Afghanistan Chris Hondros/Getty Images October 2009 - Paktika Province, Afghanistan April 2011 - Ajdabiyah, Libya Chris Hondros/Getty Images April 2011 - Ajdabiyah, Libya "Great photography requires steadiness of hand and heart. Very often the window to take an important picture is only open for a fraction of a second. Waver or hesitate, even if the world is crashing down around you, and the moment will pass." July 2003 - Monrovia, Liberia Chris Hondros/Getty Images July 2003 - Monrovia, Liberia
January 2005 - Tal Afar, Iraq Chris Hondros/Getty Images January 2005 - Tal Afar, Iraq "The problem with war photography is that there's absolutely no way to do it from a distance. You have to be close." April 2003 - Al-Kut, Iraq Chris Hondros/Getty Images April 2003 - Al-Kut, Iraq March 2003 - Cizre, Turkey Chris Hondros/Getty Images March 2003 - Cizre, Turkey "Many of my photographs are portraits: focused on the probing eyes of an Afghan village boy, or the playful gaze of rambunctious Iraqi schoolgirls enjoying their precious few years of relative freedom before aging into more restricted adulthoods, or the piercing stare of an American Marine looking back at me through a small mirror on an unadorned wall."
June 2007 - Baghdad, Iraq Chris Hondros/Getty Images June 2007 - Baghdad, Iraq March 2001 - Akaraolu, Nigeria Chris Hondros/Getty Images March 2001 - Akaraolu, Nigeria "One of the ongoing themes in my work, I hope, and one of the things I believe in, is a sense of human nature, a sense of shared humanity above the cultural laws we place on ourselves. We place these layers of ethnicity and culture on ourselves, and it really doesn’t mean that much compared to the human experience." April 2011 - Misrata, Libya Chris Hondros/Getty Images April 2011 - Misrata, Libya
June 2010 - Herat, Afghanistan Chris Hondros/Getty Images June 2010 - Herat, Afghanistan "Of course, the view from a Humvee window, for all it’s apparent intimacy, provides a limited look at a complex country. Vignettes of street life give some understanding of any society, but an incomplete and ephemeral one." March 2010 - Khan Neshin, Afghanistan Chris Hondros/Getty Images March 2010 - Khan Neshin, Afghanistan July 2007 - Baghdad, Iraq Chris Hondros/Getty Images July 2007 - Baghdad, Iraq "I’m looking for the music that best conveys the tragedy of Iraq. One night, I was out with the Marines before an offensive in an utterly remote desert of Anbar province, sleeping in an open on the sand. The moon had set and it was ethereally dark and quiet, and I listened to Beethoven’s cavatina as I stared up into a black sea sprinkled liberally with lights of the cosmos. And I felt, just for a moment, that I almost understood why I was there and what it all meant."
June 2005 - Saqlawiyah, Iraq Chris Hondros June 2005 - Saqlawiyah, Iraq

The Chris Hondros Fund advances the work of photojournalists who espouse his legacy and vision, and sponsors fellowships and programs that bring shared human experiences into the public eye that might otherwise go unnoticed or unreported.

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