Tag Archives: Rémi Ochlik

In Memoriam: Photographers Who Died in 2012

In the universe of serious, meaningful photography, the chance to honor the lives and careers of peers, colleagues and, occasionally, heroes in an end-of-year “those we lost” tribute comes with a grim, one-time-only satisfaction: namely, the opportunity to see, in one place, the work of photographers who would otherwise never, ever be shown together.

Like politics, death can sometimes make for strange bedfellows.

Where else would, say, Cornel Lucas’ glamorous Hollywood portraits feel so right alongside LIFE staffer Lee Balterman’s edgy depictions of Sixties’ unrest? In what other context would a black-and-white image of Nehru by India’s first woman photojournalist, Homai Vyarawalla (a.k.a, “Dalda 13″), not seem out of place beside Jim McCrary’s famous 1971 Tapestry portrait of Carole King?

Of course, it’s hardly just the variety of photographers we lost in 2012 that’s so striking, but the cumulative power and excellence of their work.

Dody Weston Thompson, for example, who died in October at 89, not only worked as an assistant with titans like Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, but collaborated for years with her husband, Brett Weston. Over a five-plus-decade career, from the 1940s into the early 2000s, she forged friendships with many of the signature artists of the century (Minor White, Imogen Cunningham, Georgia O’Keeffe and others) while always doggedly — and joyfully — pursuing her own creative vision.

Another formidable woman, Eve Arnold, died early in 2012 at the age of 99. The Philadelphia native joined Magnum in 1957 and for decades produced indelible portraits of celebrities (Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe), political and cultural figures (Malcolm X, Jackie Kennedy, James Cagney) and the disenfranchised (migrant workers, prostitutes). Named a “Master of Photography” by ICP in 1995, Arnold lived in England until her death in January.

On staff at LIFE for 24 years, Michael Rougier was, according to magazine lore, the only unknown photographer who ever walked into the LIFE offices and was hired then and there. (He had smuggled pictures of a then-camera shy Eva Peron out of Argentina.) Rougier — who has a peak in Antarctica named after him; he tumbled down its side while on assignment for LIFE in the 1960s — died in January at the age of 86. Another LIFE photographer, Lee Balterman, whose work chronicled some of the signature events of the roiling Sixties (the ’68 Chicago convention, the Detroit riots) as well as the beauty and rigor of the arts, died in January at age 91. Ken Regan, who died in late November (nobody seems to have known his real age), made striking portraits of most of the biggest names of the 1960s and ’70s, including Dylan, the Stones, Hendrix and Muhammad Ali.

Prize-winning combat photographer Horst Faas, whose work across almost a half-century with the Associated Press helped redefine what war photography could (and perhaps should) look like, died in May. He was 79. In February, another award-winning war photographer, Rémi Ochlik, was killed by Syrian artillery fire while covering the siege of Homs in that country’s civil war. Ochlik, a World Press Photo honoree in 2012, was just 28.

The man who won both the Pulitzer Prize and the World Press Photo of the Year in 1963 for his image of a self-immolating monk in Saigon, Malcolm Browne, died in May at 81.

( Read Patrick Witty’s interview with Browne, “Behind the Burning Monk.” )

More than a few fine-art photographers passed away in 2012. Among them: New Jersey native Jan Groover, whose work has been shown at MoMa in New York, the Cleveland Museum of Art, ICP, the Corcoran Gallery and many other places; the self-taught, Kolkata-born Prabuddha Dasgupta, whose fashion work spanned more than three decades; and Arnaud Maggs, whose conceptual work — and especially his portraits of famous subjects, presented in grid-like formats — earned him acclaim in his native Canada and internationally.

Martine Franck, who died of cancer in Paris at 74, was a Magnum photographer for more than three decades who began her career in the early 1960s, assisting the great LIFE photographers Eliot Elisofon and Gjon Mili. Magnum’s president, Alex Majoli, eulogized his friend and colleague with the simple and moving observation that the agency had “lost a point of reference, a lighthouse, and one of our most influential and beloved members.”

In September, Pedro Guerrero died in Arizona at the age of 95. For five decades in the middle part of the 20th century, Guerrero (an art school dropout) worked closely with Frank Lloyd Wright, chronicling the architect’s projects in photographs.

French-born Michelle Vignes, who co-founded the International Fund for Photography and Fotovision, worked as a photo editor in the early days at Magnum and was among the most important chroniclers of the pivotal social movements of the 1960s and ’70s (the American Indian Movement’s occupation of Wounded Knee; the Black Panthers; Vietnam War protests), died in October at 86.

Richard Gordon, whose pictures are in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, SFMOMA, the Getty Museum, the Corcoran Gallery and other major institutions, died in October in Berkley, Calif., at 67.

Chilean street-photographer Sergio Larrain, who was invited by Cartier-Bresson to join Magnum in the late ’50s, but abandoned his camera in the early 1970s in order to pursue what became an increasingly solitary spiritual quest, died in February at the age of 80. Another Latin American photographer, the Argentine Horacio Coppola, who was documenting his native Buenos Aires as early as the 1930s, died in June at 105.

Walt Zeboski, who covered four California governors and other political power players in the state, as well as Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign for the Associated Press, died on November 12. He was 83.

Yasuhiro Ishimoto, a Japanese-American who first learned photography while interned at Colorado’s Amache Internment Camp during World War II, died in February at 90. A key figure in the post-war movement (across all of the arts) that saw Eastern and Western sensibilities melding and, occasionally, clashing to such vivid effect, Ishimoto won numerous awards — including the Moholy-Nagy twice.

A photographer whose fashion work was published primarily in Harper’s Bazaar in the 1950s and ’60s and who was still working into her 90s — using contemporary digital technologies to manipulate her images — Lillian Bassman died in February at the age of 94.

Known primarily for an iconic image of Beat-era legends Michael McClure, Allen Ginsberg and others outside City Lights bookstore in San Francisco in December 1965 — made when he was just 22 — Bay Area native Larry Keenan worked as a photographer for the next four decades. He was an accomplished commercial photographer, but also made a point of continuing to shoot the counterculture as it evolved from the ’60s into the 21st century.

Wilhelm Brasse, a Pole and a prisoner at Auschwitz during the Second World War, was a professional photographer forced by the SS to document everything from the work performed by fellow inmates to the horrific medical experiments conducted by Nazi doctors at the notorious concentration camp.

Paula Lerner was just 52 years old when she died in March from cancer. Lerner, who often worked on commercial assignments to help finance the photojournalism projects that were her passion, was the principal photographer for Behind the Veil, about the lives of women and girls in contemporary Afghanistan.

In a career spanning 50 years, South Africa’s Alf Kumalo tirelessly (and artfully) chronicled the abuses of apartheid. He died in October at 82.

Known primarily for her pictures documenting the women’s movement of the 1970s and its high-profile leaders (Steinem, Friedan, Abzug), Bettye Lane also covered other people and events of the fraught era, including antiwar rallies and the stirrings of the modern environmental movement. She died in Manhattan in September at 82.

Architectural photographer Susan Carr died in early September in Chicago. A leader of the education programs at the American Society of Media Photographers, Carr was 49.

Robert McElroy died on February 22 in White Plains, New York. A photographer for Newsweek for almost 20 years, he was best-known for his pictures of the vibrant art “happenings” of the 1950s and early ’60s.

Stan Stearns — whose portrait of 3-year-old John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his father’s coffin in 1963 poignantly distilled a nation’s grief — died of lung cancer in March. He was 76.

Juan Antonio Serrano, a documentary photographer and brother of the Ecuadorian Interior Minister, Jose Serrano, was stabbed to death in the city of Cuenca in southern Ecuador. The murder was, evidently, not associated with his photography work. Serrano was 34.

Syria’s Agony: The Photographs That Moved Them Most

Syria has always been a tough place to cover for journalists. Confidently authoritarian with a ruthlessly formidable security and intelligence apparatus, Syria has long been one of the most policed of Arab police states. So when some Syrians defied their government to take to the streets in the southern city of Dara‘a in March 2011, the temptation to cover the story was overwhelming for many, including myself.

The story of the Syrian uprising is ultimately the tale of regular citizens silencing the policeman in their heads, breaking their own personal barriers of fear to speak, to demonstrate, to demand, to reject, to no longer be afraid, to live in dignity. It’s about what these people will do, what they will endure, and what they are prepared to become to achieve their aims.

It is also the story of a significant portion of the population that considers the regime of President Bashar Assad the country’s best option, because they believe in its Baathist secular ideology or directly benefit from its patronage or don’t have confidence in Assad’s opponents and fear what may come next. Understanding what this segment of the population will accept in terms of state violence, the narratives they choose to believe and their concerns is a critical component of the story, though one that is harder to obtain, given the paucity of press visas issued by Damascus.

The only way to tell the Syrian story, really tell it, is to be on the ground with the men, women and children who are central to it, whether in Syria on in the neighboring states that many Syrians have fled to. It isn’t easy to do — the Committee to Protect Journalists, based in New York City, has dubbed Syria the “most dangerous place for journalists in the world” — but it is essential. Nothing beats being there. There is no compensating for seeing, feeling, touching, capturing, living the story.

The images here are a testament to the power of being on the ground, of sharing and capturing a moment for posterity, of translating an element of a person’s life through imagery.

Take a look at the photos. Can you place yourself in these situations? Can you imagine what it must be like? What do you feel when you look at the images? Are you drawn into them, or are you repulsed? Can you relate to them, or are they too alien? This is the power of translating on-the-ground reporting to an audience. This is why we must and will continue to document the Syrian uprising from inside the country when we can, and we — members of the foreign press corps — are not alone. Sadly, as is often the case, local journalists (both professional and citizen) have disproportionately borne the brunt of the casualties in this crisis. Still, this story is not about members of the media and what we go through to tell it; it’s about the Syrians who entrust their testimonies, their experiences, their hopes, their fears, their images to us in the hope that they will help explain what is happening in one of the most pivotal states in the Middle East.

—Rania Abouzeid


This collection of testimonies is the third in a series by TIME documenting iconic images of conflict. See “9/11: The Photographs That Moved Them Most” and “Afghanistan: The Photographs That Moved Them Most” for more.

Abouzeid is a Middle East correspondent for TIME. Reporting by Vaughn Wallace.



The Abandoned Chocolate Factory by Sebastian Liste

The child peers out a narrow slit of window, his face illuminated in an otherwise dark room. The concrete walls are stained and pockmarked–it looks like a war zone. Hanging  in the background are two objects: a curling paper calendar and a framed black-and-white photograph. The latter, a family portrait, was taken by Sebastian Liste. The same photographer who captured this very scene (slide #3) as part of a long-term documentary of one community in Brazil.

Today, Liste will be awarded the City Of Perpignan Rémi Ochlik Award, named for the young French photojournalist who was killed on assignment earlier this year in Syria. Liste’s project, Urban Quilombo, is a gritty and intimate look into the lives of dozens of families that occupied an abandoned chocolate factory in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. Fed up with the violence that plagued the beleaguered city, the families bonded together at the factory and formed a community—a community that the Spanish-born photographer immersed him within, beginning in 2009. The resulting photographs tell a chilling story of both courage and despair. In one of the most intense images of the series (slide #5), two men square off, splashing in a pool of water—one brands a huge stick, the other two knives.

The day he took the picture, Liste was inside the factory when two men began to argue. They had been playing Bingo for three straight days, trying to make money to rent a van to pick up their belongings as police were evicting families, when they began fighting viciously. “At the beginning I tried to stop them,” Liste said. “they finished the fight by throwing big stones.” Neither man was seriously wounded in the fight, but Liste’s friends  pulled him away, fearing he would be hurt.

Over the years, Liste said, he has given hundreds of prints back to the people of the chocolate factory. The fact that one of these, the family portrait, appears within another photograph in the project is a visual reminder of the time he has put in.

“On my second trip to Salvador de Bahia, I gave a photo album to everyone there,” he said. “It’s quite an interesting process because they started to build a kind of memory of their lives through the pictures I took there.”

Liste said that he’s even found pictures of himself on the walls as if he was a surrogate family member. In documenting this community, he has become part of it. That kind of dedication is the only way pictures like these can be made.

One of Liste’s favorite images from the project was captured was when a 13-year-old girl named Vanessa was reunited with her mother after seven years apart (slide #4). Liste met Vanessa, who had been abandoned at age 6 and had been living at the factory with an uncle. Feeling for the young girl, Liste asked around, hoping to find Vanessa’s mother in the labyrinthine streets of Salvador de Bahia. After months of searching, Vanessa’s mom turned up in the outskirts of the city and Liste was there with his camera to photograph the reunion. “The hug picture is probably the best image I took there,” Liste said. “Both of them were very happy to be together again.”

In March 2011, the Brazilian government evicted the families from the factory, in an attempt to cleanse the city for upcoming international events, including the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.

The families have since moved to a new neighborhood called the “Jardim das Margaridas,” where Liste continues documenting their lives.

Receiving the Rémi Ochlik Award means a lot to Liste, who, despite not knowing Ochlik personally, believed they shared similar experiences and ideas about the role of photography.

“We are almost the same age and we are both fighting to bring light to hard and hidden stories,” said Liste. “It’s a big honor to get this award.”

Sebastian Liste is a Brazil-based photographer. In September 2012, he received the Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography and the City of Perpignan Rémi Ochlik  Award. See more of his work here.

Rémi Ochlik’s Revolutions

“War is worse than drugs. One moment it’s a bad trip, a nightmare. But the next moment, as soon as the immediate danger has passed, there is an overpowering desire to go back for more. To risk one’s life in order to get more pictures in return for not very much. It is an incomprehensible force that pushes us to keep going back in.”

Rmi Ochlik, 2004

This spring, after French war photographer Rmi Ochlik was killed during fighting in Homs, Syria, a group of close friends and colleagues felt their obligations to the photographer weren’t complete. Meeting aboard a TGV train on their way to Paris from the World Press awards ceremony in Amsterdam in late April, the group took stock of everything that had happened since Rmi’s death. find personal injury attorney . His photographs had spoken for themselves when exhibited in tribute in Amsterdam. The large circle of friends gathered in his name was a testament to his character; he was always the guy who would make friends sharing a cigarette. But one duty remained unfinishednot a tribute, nor a memorial, but a commitment to continue what was and what should have been in Rmi’s life.

Now, five months later, Revolutions is finisheda book of 144 pages, across which Rmi’s photographs of the Arab Spring spread forth. The tome depicts hope, anger, celebration and fearsome of humanity’s most powerful emotions recorded in photographsand feelings the photographer undoubtedly felt during a career cut short by the harsh realities often facing those documenting armed conflict.

Scattered through this visual record of Rmi’s witness are the words of friends, which encompass close confidants, long-time coworkers and fellow photographers. Their testimonies are short, speaking to the memories of a man killed at a time and place in the world many photographers hesitated to cover.

Ochlikbegan his photography of the Arab Spring in Tunisiaand so the book does the same. “It is impressive to see the ease with which he moves through the street as the rocks fly everywhere,” writes Julien De Rosa of his shared time with Rmi outside Tahrir Square in Cairo. “This is clearly his natural environment.”

Rmi, considered by colleagues an old-school photographer despite his youngage (29), moved with confidence and resolve through the borders of conflict in the Middle East. This is what makes his death that much more painful, for at his age and with his skill, his potential had seemed limitless.

“Be safe, okay?” were the last words that Gert Van Langendonck told Rmi before his final trip to the besieged city of Homs. “You’ve already won your World Press Photo.” And indeed Rmi’s work was deserving of high honorhis story from Libya earned him first prize in the 2012 World Press Photo competition’s General News category. His photographic eye was strongstrengthening, evenas he entered Syria. A vision deserving of high honor, cut short by a barrage of shelling that also killed American correspondent Marie Colvin.

Rmi was often aware that he didn’t have a personal project in the works, Van Langendonck told TIME. Personal projects provide an outlet for photographers to explore their interests outside of commissioned editorial work, allowing for an inner-consistency even as a photographer’s surroundings are rapidly changing. So caught up in his work, Remi didn’t need it “I’ve never had so many of my pictures published in my life,” he told Van Langendonck.

After paying the ultimate price for his work, Rmi’s personal project became clear. Although the future promise of the French photographer will never be fully realized, the publishing of Revolutions has brought a modicum of closure.

Revolutions is nowavailable through Emphas.is. The book project, funded by contributors, raised $24,250 as of Sept. 4, exceeding its original fundraising target of $15,000 by almost 40%.

Escape from Syria: Photographs by William Daniels

When we arrived in Bab Amr, we began to send e-mails to editors saying we were there. We were excited, happy. Of course, we were scared of the situation, but we were happy.

On the first morning, shelling began very close to us. One boom, then a second. After the third, the Syrians with us shouted, “You have to get out!” Then a fourth rocket hit. We lost Marie Colvin, the American reporter, and my friend Rémi Ochlik, a photographer. The correspondent for Le Figaro, Edith Bouvier, was badly injured, as was Paul Conroy, a British photojournalist.

William Daniels—Panos for TIME

This week’s cover of TIME.

The Syrian army targeted Bab Amr everywhere, anywhere. There was no way to get out. One night we visited families staying underground. There were 150 people in a basement with only small lights. They had some rice and a bit of water. Everyone had a family member who had been killed. We felt very bad, thinking, Please help us get out of here; we have lost our friends. But we couldn’t say that, because they had lost everything.

The Syrians who were looking after us were never outwardly scared. They were totally confident. They would prepare medicine in the middle of the room, while we were cowering behind a wall. They were not scared of anything.

Rémi’s death affected me a lot. And perhaps it will affect me even more later. His career was taking off. He had just won the World Press Photo award. He was becoming famous. I was sure he was about to work with magazines he’d dreamed of working for, like TIME. We were excited about getting to Syria. We thought we had a lot of work. I thought, O.K., we’re here, we’ve come for this, to be inside Bab Amr. There was no time to think that maybe we’d made a mistake in going there.

I really liked Rémi. I had a lot of affection for him. Perhaps because I’m older, I felt a bit like an older brother. But sometimes he was the one advising me, especially when we were in dangerous situations. And he just disappeared, so quickly.

Rémi was cremated in Paris on March 6, the first anniversary of the Syrian revolution.

MORE: A Reporter’s Escape from Syria

French photographer William Daniels was on assignment for TIME in the besieged district of Bab Amr. On March 1, after nine days there, he and Edith Bouvier managed to safely cross the border into Lebanon.

In Memoriam: Rémi Ochlik, 1983 – 2012

Rémi Ochlik, an award-winning French photojournalist, was just 29 when he died on Feb. 22, when government forces shelled a building where a growing number of foreign journalists were covering the battle in Homs, Syria. Ochlik died alongside Marie Colvin, an American who was one of Britain’s most honored combat reporters. Two other journalists were reportedly wounded in the barrage.

For Ochlik the horror in Syria came as he was just beginning his career. He was with his friend Lucas Dolego, a French photographer, on the streets of Tunis during the revolution there in January 2011 when Dolego was hit and killed by a police teargas canister. “We had come to work, so I kept on working,” he said in a recent interview, after being honored for his Arab Spring photos. “As a little boy I always wanted to become an archeologist, for the travels, the adventures,” he continued. That changed when his grandfather gave him his first camera.

Lucas Dolega—Polaris

Oct. 23, 2011. French photojournalist Remi Ochlik in Misrata, Libya. Ochlik was killed Feb. 22, 2012, by Syrian shelling of the opposition stronghold Homs.

In 2004, Ochlik traveled to Haiti and photographed the fall of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, winning the Francois Chalais Award for Young Reporters. He started his own agency, IP3 press, which specialized in combat photography, he covered the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2008 and he returned to Haiti for a cholera epidemic in 2010. In 2011, Ochlik covered the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya; his work in Libya won him first prize in the General News category of the World Press Photo contest. One of the World Press judges said that his submission told a complete story.

“The idea was not to focus on just one part of the story,” Ochlik told the British Journal of Photography. “Because when you look at what happened, this war was divided in several parts—in Benghazi, in Misrata—and in what I’ve covered, I’ve tried to tell a story.”

Ochlik’s own story took him to Syria merely a week before he was killed. His and Colvin’s deaths came the same week that Anthony Shadid, a renowned foreign correspondent, died of an apparent asthma attack while sneaking out of the country where he had been reporting. Despite his young age, Ochlik understood the risks in his chosen profession. In describing his work in Haiti when he was only 20 years old, he said, “I could sense the danger, but it was where I always dreamt to be, in the action.” His being there allowed the world to witness horrifying atrocities, but it ended the life of a gifted storyteller when his own adventure had barely begun.