Portrait of photographer/conflict journalist Tim Hetherington whilst embedded with 2nd Platoon, Battle Company, 2nd Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade troops in the Korengal Valley, September 2007
Portrait of Tim Hetherington whilst embedded with 2nd Platoon, Battle Company, 2nd Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade troops in the Korengal Valley, September 2007 © IWM (DC 47747)

Tim Hetherington was born in Liverpool in 1970 and studied literature at Oxford University before going on to study photojournalism. Early on in his career he worked as a photographer for The Big Issue and took on commissions for Human Rights Watch. His photographs have featured in major publications such as the Observer, although he is best known for his innovative and multimedia approach to exploring conflict as a freelance photojournalist and filmmaker.

Tim preferred to work independently on long-term projects. He wanted to be in control of the narratives he felt drawn to exploring and he wanted his work to be about “real people in real situations”. It was his fascination with conflict that drove him to take an in-depth look at its many layers and he was constantly looking for new and engaging ways to share his work with others. 

Tim died in April 2011 from injuries sustained when photographing unrest in Libya during a wave of uprisings in the region known as ‘the Arab Spring’.

The complete archive of Tim’s work is now held at Imperial War Museums. Key works document the many places, people and warzones that Tim encountered throughout his career. The archive includes complete records of all Tim’s major projects from conception to completion, illustrating Tim’s approach to recording conflict and shedding new light on his inquisitive and visionary perspective.

The Millennium Stars (1999)

Members of local football team the 'Millennium Stars' pray before the start of a training session in Monrovia, Liberia. 1999.
Members of local football team the 'Millennium Stars' pray before the start of a training session in Monrovia, Liberia. 1999. © IWM (DC 66178)

The Millennium Stars (1999)

Photographs shot by Tim Hetherington of the Millennium Stars: a football team made up of former child-combatants established to rehabilitate them following their involvement in the Liberian civil wars of the 1990s. The collection documents the team’s 1999 tour of the United Kingdom and follows them back home to Liberia.

The experience of working on the project had a lasting impact on Tim’s work, in which the relationship between young men and violence became a recurring theme. This collection of work also marks the beginning of Tim’s long and prolific relationship with West Africa, and Liberia in particular.

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Healing Sport (1999-2002)

An amputee with a prosthetic limb about to take to the field for a friendly football match at a war veterans camp situated on the outskirts of Luanda, Angola. June 2002.
An amputee with a prosthetic limb about to take to the field for a friendly football match at a war veterans camp situated on the outskirts of Luanda, Angola. June 2002.© IWM (DC 63058)

Healing Sport (1999-2002)

‘Healing Sport’ is a project documenting the healing qualities of sport and the spirit of competition in parts of Africa impacted by war and violence. The project includes Hetherington’s work in Sierra Leone, Angola and Liberia. It overlaps with other bodies of work by Hetherington such as his ‘Millennium Stars’ project.

Tim’s work in Angola and Sierra Leone covers a wide spectrum of sports and athletes and also includes sports venues such as gymnasiums and stadiums.

This work is key to the development of Hetherington's interest in the consequences of conflict and to his professional development as a photographer, humanitarian and storyteller.

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Kenyan Taekwondo Team (2002)

Portrait of a young Kenyan taekwondo fighter preparing for an upcoming bout. Behind him, another student ties his protective vest. Nairobi, Kenya, February 2002
Portrait of a young Kenyan taekwondo fighter preparing for an upcoming bout. Behind him, another student ties his protective vest. Nairobi, Kenya, February 2002© IWM (DC 62947)

Kenyan Taekwondo Team (2002)

Used at times as part of his ‘Healing Sport’ project, Hetherington’s photos of a young Kenyan Taekwondo team fits into his exploration around the theme of young men and violence.

The collection follows a Kenyan Taekwondo team as they train in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and compete in an international Taekwondo championship in South Korea.

Taekwondo represents an opportunity for young men living in Nairobi to escape cycles of violence they might otherwise be drawn into on the city streets.

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The Liberian Civil War (2003)

A group of rebel fighters from the group Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) progresses toward Monrovia for a planned attack on the capital. A fighter, wounded in an ambush, layes in the back of a pick up truck beside a mounted machine gun. June 2003.
A group of rebel fighters from the group Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) progresses toward Monrovia for a planned attack on the capital. A fighter, wounded in an ambush, lays in the back of a pick up truck beside © IWM (DC 64030)

The Liberian Civil War (2003)

Photographs taken by Tim Hetherington while working with conflict journalist James Brabazon as they followed the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) rebels advance toward the Liberian capital city, Monrovia.

The conflict was Hetherington’s first direct experience of documenting a warzone and he used the images in his book Long Story Bit by Bit,(2009)

Tim used a vintage Rolleiflex film camera instead of a modern digital model to capture rich textures and colours in square format images that would contrast with other photojournalism at that time.

With a limited number of shots per reel of film he had to be sparing, taking carefully considered shots that captured an intimate human perspective of the conflict.

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Post-war Liberia (2003-2006)

Czech policeman, Matren Ondraçka, trains new Liberian National Police (LNP) recruits in riot control as part of the United Nations Civilian Police (CIVPOL) restructuring plan. Monrovia. Liberia. May 2004.
Czech policeman, Matren Ondraçka, trains new Liberian National Police (LNP) recruits in riot control as part of the United Nations Civilian Police (CIVPOL) restructuring plan. Monrovia. Liberia. May 2004. © IWM (DC 64131)

Post-war Liberia (2003-2006)

Photographs taken by Tim Hetherington documenting Liberia following years of civil war that came to an end in 2003.

The collection follows Liberia’s journey towards a more stable democracy and covers a range of issues, including political and economic reconstruction, health, poverty, everyday life and the presence of the United Nations.

Hetherington lived in Liberia while he documented these years of change, producing the book Long Story Bit by Bit, which mixes photography with research and oral testimony.

He later gave testimony as an expert witness during the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor in 2006.

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The consequences of conflict in Sierra Leone (1999-2006)

Portrait of a patient blinded during the civil war in Sierra Leone awaiting surgery. A large number of people lost eyes during the civil war in Sierra Leone, either through gunshot and shrapnel wounds or torture. Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Portrait of a patient blinded during the civil war in Sierra Leone awaiting surgery. A large number of people lost eyes during the civil war in Sierra Leone, either through gunshot and shrapnel wounds or torture. Freetown, Sierra Leone.© IWM (DC 63656)

The consequences of conflict in Sierra Leone (1999-2006)

Tim Hetherington's photography covering the consequences of conflict in Sierra Leone.

The collection covers a diverse range of subjects including Hetherington’s 'War Blind’ work which provides an insight into one particularly disturbing aspect of what was an extremely violent conflict.

Many of the subjects were blinded as a consequence of torture, from malnutrition or from the fighting.

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Blind Link (2001-2005)

A boy plays at the Milton Margai School for the Blind. Freetown, Sierra Leone. October 1999. © IWM (DC 63603)
A boy plays at the Milton Margai School for the Blind. Freetown, Sierra Leone. October 1999. © IWM (DC 63603)

Blind Link (2001-2005)

The photographs featured in Tim Hetherington's Blind Link project are amongst his most acclaimed and recognisable work.

They document two different schools for the blind: the Milton Margai School for the Blind in Sierra Leone and the Dorton House School in the United Kingdom.

The aim of the Blind Link project was to re-establish a connection that had been lost between the two schools, due in part to the interruption of the civil war in Sierra Leone.

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Niger Delta (2006)

A gas flare illuminates a local vigillante patrolling at night around the Agip oil and gas installation at Ebocha. Nigeria. March 2006.
A gas flare illuminates a local vigillante patrolling at night around the Agip oil and gas installation at Ebocha. Nigeria. March 2006. © IWM (DC 63386)

Niger Delta (2006)

Tim Hetherington's work covering the oil rich Niger Delta region of West Africa where the extraction of resources in the area led to disputes and conflict between local populations, government and energy companies.

A series of terrorist attacks by groups such as MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) were targeted at oil extraction facilities and pipelines belonging to the energy companies operating in the region.

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The Korengal Valley, Afghanistan (2007-2008)

Soldiers from 2nd Platoon dig earth for use as sand bags to reinforce parts of the Restrepo Outpost in the Korengal Valley. June 2008.
Soldiers from 2nd Platoon dig earth for use as sand bags to reinforce parts of the Restrepo Outpost in the Korengal Valley. June 2008. © IWM (DC 92500)

The Korengal Valley, Afghanistan (2007-2008)

A collection of photos shot by Tim Hetherington while embedded with the United States Army's 2nd Platoon, Battle Company, 2nd Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade in Eastern Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. The collection documents the bond which develops between a group of soldiers in conflict. Hetherington lived alongside the men at a remote outpost called 'Restrepo' – named after a platoon medic (Corpsman) who died early on in the 15-month deployment.

The images reveal the intense and complex nature of conflict as experienced by the soldiers in what was an extremely hostile part of Afghanistan's Kunar Province. They show the men’s living conditions, their combat operations and their interactions with both the Afghan National Army and the civilian population.

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The anti-Gaddafi uprising and Civil War in Libya (2011)

The anti-Gaddafi uprising and Civil War in Libya (2011) © IWM (HU 137753)
The anti-Gaddafi uprising and Civil War in Libya (2011) © IWM (HU 137753)

The anti-Gaddafi uprising and Civil War in Libya (2011)

Photographs shot by Tim Hetherington of the anti-Gaddafi uprising and Civil War in Libya, 2011.

The uprising begun with demonstrations sparked by regional unrest and revolt in several countries, events which were collectively known as the Arab Spring.

The photographs cover civilian protests in Benghazi and then combatant anti-Gaddafi forces moving south towards pro-Gaddafi forces near Ajdabiya and Brega.

The collection also includes Hetherington's final work in the besieged city of Misurata, where he was killed by mortar fire on 20th April 2011.

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African nations (2000-2007)

 African nations (2000-2007) photographed by Tim Hetherington
A hurd of cattle in South Sudan, where an outbreak of foot and mouth disease has affected cattle of the Dinka tribe. May 2000.© IWM (DC 63256)

African nations (2000-2007)

Photographs taken by Tim Hetherington in Africa for funded projects, non-governmental organisations and the news media.

The images were captured in several African nations and cover subjects including genocide in the Darfur region, children living on the streets of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the legacy of conflict in post-war Angola and a devastating outbreak of 'Foot and Mouth' disease in Sudan.

Other featured countries include Ivory Coast and Nigeria.

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On the Front Lines of the Libyan Revolution

On the Front Lines of the Libyan Revolution

In 2011, Muammar Gaddafi had been in charge in Libya for 42 years. That year, a revolutionary wave swept across North Africa and the Middle East known as the Arab Spring. 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.

Photojournalists Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros travelled with anti-Gaddafi fighters across the country to document the Libyan revolution. Tim’s work captures the events that were unfolding, but there is also a deeper perspective in his work that went beyond reporting on world events: he wanted to reveal the real people who were caught in this conflict.

The Tim Hetherington Collection - Licensing and Prints

IWM is the copyright holder of the Tim Hetherington collection which is available to purchase and license for use in commercial projects. 

Prints of Tim Hetherington’s works are now available for purchase exclusively on IWM Prints, 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.