Sergeant O'Byrne from 2nd Platoon, Battle Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade turns away from a dust cloud being created by a Chinook helicopter that is re-supplying the Restrepo Outpost in the Korengal Valley, September 2007.
© IWM DC 57687 Sergeant O'Byrne from 2nd Platoon, Battle Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade turns away from a dust cloud being created by a Chinook helicopter that is re-supplying the Restrepo Outpost

In November 2017, Imperial War Museums (IWM) acquired the complete archive of award-winning conflict photographer Tim Hetherington.

This extensive archive comprises his seminal photography and video work from Liberia (2003-2006), Afghanistan (2007-2008) and Libya (2011), reflecting his work as a conflict journalist but also as a humanitarian and innovator.

Offering a unique insight into his working practices, the archive also includes handwritten journals and correspondence, cameras, tear sheets, and publications featuring his photography. 

The IWM’s acquisition of the Tim Hetherington archive offers a timely opportunity to examine the legacy of a prize-winning photographer and ensure that Hetherington’s insightful work can be made available to future generations.

Conducting surveillance with a thermal imaging camera from an observation point at the 'KOP' (Korengal Outpost) command post, September 2007.
© IWM DC 58630 Conducting surveillance with a thermal imaging camera from an observation point at the 'KOP' (Korengal Outpost) command post, September 2007.

The University of Leeds and IWM have received Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funding for a series of network events, 2020 - 2022, exploring the archive of the award-winning conflict photographer Tim Hetherington.

The network is timed to feed into the documenting and interpretation of Hetherington’s work at IWM, contributing both expert analysis from research events but also insights from public engagement workshops held in tandem.

The network’s activities are designed to generate enriched understandings of the archive by engaging with the people who worked with Hetherington, contemporary photojournalists and film-makers, in addition to scholars and interested members of the public.

PROJECT LAUNCH

Tim Hetherington is best known as an award-winning conflict photographer, including four World Press Photo awards. In 2010, he was also nominated for an Academy Award for Restrepo, a feature-length documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S soldiers in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. This first AHRC funded network event, focuses on the visual tropes of war, including the idea of the ‘feedback loop’ which Hetherington spoke about, where soldiers co-opt popular culture into their own self-representations. Our expert speakers discuss issues such as military masculinity, picturing injury, and the appeal of animals in combat imagery. The event includes a short welcome, followed by two panels with invited speakers giving short presentations plus audience Q&A.

Humanitarian photography

This second AHRC funded network event, focuses on the potential and pitfalls of ‘humanitarian photography’. Tim Hetherington was interested in power differentials and the ethics of representation, leading him to question his own role in travelling to African countries to take photographs of conflicts.   But his direct experience of documenting the Liberian civil war also led him to give testimony as an expert witness during the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor in 2006. In this event, we consider the evidential, cultural and political work of photography which attempts to convey the lasting consequences of war. The event begins with a short welcome, followed by two in-person presentations and a virtual Q&A. The second part features a panel discussion and a pre-recorded video presentation.   Event recorded: 16th September 2021

Conflict imagery in the digital era

The final network event was held in New York with our partners at the Bronx Documentary Center. It brings together experts working across photography, filmmaking, curation, and research, to discuss how the pressures of the digital era are shaping professional values and experiences for those producing conflict and post-conflict imagery.  The discussion considers the ways in which the photojournalistic industry has responded to the rapidly-changing digital environment and the weaponization of imagery by an array of actors. Who is now involved in the collaborative storytelling processes? Whether there is a noticeable shift in the aesthetics of war due to the popularity of certain platforms (Instagram, TikTok)? How do photographers or filmmakers ensure visibility of their work in an era of information overload? And how does the Russian war in Ukraine affect our understanding of these issues? Event recorded: 6th April 2022

About the project

Portrait of a boy on the street in central Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. June 2001.
© IWM DC 63265 Portrait of a boy on the street in central Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. June 2001.

About the project

The Tim Hetherington and Conflict Imagery Research Network is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK.

The network project is managed by Principal Investigator Dr Katy Parry (University of Leeds) and Co-Investigator Greg Brockett (Imperial War Museum).

The Bronx Documentary Center and the International Center of Photography are our international network partners.

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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)
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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.
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Photographs

IWM holds approximately 11 million photographs covering the cause, course and consequences of modern conflict from the First World War to present day.