Tim Hetherington IWM Photography Collection book cover showing a LURD combatant with a hand grenade looking directly at the camera.
© IWM

Tim Hetherington wanted to tell people’s stories in a variety of ways. During his career he produced work as a photojournalist, humanitarian and award-winning film director, but his primary tool of communication was photography.

Despite spending long periods in the very midst of fierce conflicts, Hetherington chose to focus on capturing the human experience of war, producing work which is more visually captivating and thoughtful than we typically see in newspapers, magazines, on social media and 24-hour news channels.

Hetherington died in April 2011 from injuries sustained when covering the Arab Spring in Libya. His archive was later donated to IWM. 

A selection of his photographs are brought together in the latest book in the IWM Photography Collection series.

Written by senior curator Greg Brockett, the book showcases images from across Hetherington's career. It is available to buy from the IWM online shop and at IWM London. 

Healing Sport, 1999–2002

Black and white portrait of a member of the Liberian football team the Millennium Stars at a training pitch in Monrovia, Liberia, May 1999.
© IWM (DC_066175)
A member of the Liberian football team the Millennium Stars at a training pitch in Monrovia, Liberia, May 1999.

Early in Hetherington’s career while working as a magazine photographer he got the opportunity to photograph a team of young footballers, including former combatants from Liberia.

First photographing them in 1999, he became gripped by the Millennium Stars’ story and began to develop ideas around the theme of conflict and rehabilitation through the lens of sport.

Civil War and peace in Liberia, 2003–2005

The Chairman of LURD, Sekou Damate Conneh, in Conakry, Guinea, May 2003, wearing a grey suit, sitting on a chair draped in red cloth.
© IWM (DC_064026)
LURD Chairman, Sekou Damate Conneh, in Conakry, Guinea, May 2003.

In 2003, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) marched on the Liberian capital Monrovia. Their stated aim was the removal of Charles Taylor’s government from power.

Hetherington captured a portrait image of LURD Chairman, Sekou Damate Conneh, in Conakry, Guinea, May 2003.

Liberian woman looking at the camera, carrying cassava leaves on her head to central market in Tubmanburg during Second Liberian Civil War, May 2003.
© IWM (DC_064035)
A Liberian woman carries cassava leaves to the central market in Tubmanburg during the Second Liberian Civil War, May 2003.

While working in areas of conflict, Hetherington tried to photograph a broad perspective of people’s lives regardless of the trauma, drama and politics of the conflict going on around them. 

This image of a Liberian woman carrying cassava leaves to the central market in Tubmanburg during the Second Liberian Civil War in May 2003 will be on display at IWM London as part of Storyteller: Photography by Tim Hetherington (20 April to 29 September 2024). 

The Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, 2007-2008

US Army soldier, Afghanistan. A distressed young soldier sat on mountain-side dirt walls. He holds his hand over his head and has an open mouth.
© IWM (DC 047915_A)
A US Army soldier in Afghanistan. Winner of the World Press Photo award in 2008.

This photo of a US Army soldier in Afghanistan won the World Press Photo award in 2008.

For his acceptance speech, Hetherington wrote: ‘For me, this image isn’t about a nation, or an idea. It’s about a young man stuck on the side of a mountain in Afghanistan. His world has become the four dirt walls he dug by hand. A quarter of his platoon has been killed or wounded, and he knows that he may never see his wife again.

The picture is also about how I felt. I lived with these soldiers. I went on patrol with them. I ate their food and slept out on their cots. Like them, I felt exhausted during battle, and laughed when it was all over. I too was terrified at the prospect of being overrun by insurgents.’ 

Unfinished Libya Project, 2011

An anti-Gaddafi combatant in an abandoned office on a darkly lit Tripoli Street in Misurata, Libya, April 2011.
© IWM (HU 137582)
An anti-Gaddafi combatant in an abandoned office on Tripoli Street in Misurata, Libya, April 2011.

This previously unpublished photograph is just one of the many thousands taken by Hetherington that are in the collections of IWM and are now publicly accessible.

During his time in Libya, Hetherington kept a journal recording some of his observations and experiences. A transcription of the diary is available to read on IWM's website. Please be aware the transcription features graphic descriptions of conflict.

An anti-Gaddafi combatant is photographed in an abandoned office on Tripoli Street in Misurata, Libya, April 2011.

Discover more about Tim Hetherington

A Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy combatant sits beside a hand grenade in Tubmanburg, Liberia. June 2003.
Tim Hetherington, © IWM DC 64010
Exhibitions and Installations

Storyteller: Photography by Tim Hetherington

IWM London
20 April to 29 September 2024

Soldiers dig earth for use as sand bags.
© IWM (DC 92500)
Contemporary conflict

Tim Hetherington

Explore the work of award-winning conflict photographer Tim Hetherington.

Hetherington Libya video thumb
Contemporary conflict

Tim Hetherington's Photojournalism in the Libyan Revolution

The outbreak of civil war opened up Libya’s borders, and allowed many journalists to access the country for the first time in over four decades. Photojournalist Tim Hetherington travelled with anti-Gaddafi fighters across the country to document the Libyan revolution.

Prints of a selection of works displayed in Storyteller: Photography by Tim Hetherington at IWM London are now available for purchase exclusively on IWM Prints. This is the first time these have been made widely available outside of a limited print run. Printed on high quality semi gloss 250gsm conservation digital paper, this is a unique opportunity to own works by this award-winning photographer.