Photojournalist Captures Defining Images of War

May 15, 2009
By Cherry Crayton

Chris Hondros ’93, an award-winning photographer for Getty Images News Services, talked about his 13 trips to Iraq since 2003 this week on WUNC’s The State of Things. He’s also covered wars in Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Kosova, and his photos have appeared in The Economist, The New York Times and Newsweek. View his incredible photos on his Web site.

He was named American Photo magazine’s 2007 “Hero of Photography” and was a finalist for a 2008 National Magazine Award. Read a 2006 story in Smithsonian Magazine that takes you behind the scenes of his coverage of the civil war in Liberia, which made him a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in Spot News Photography. Get a preview after the jump.

Rebels were closing in on the government of President Charles Taylor. From a bridge leading into Monrovia, the capital, a band of child soldiers in Taylor’s army were returning rebel fire. Their commander, shirtless and dreadlocked, spotted a news photographer in the vicinity and issued an order in Liberian patois: “Oh good, white man, you come on bridge!”

Chris Hondros, a photographer for Getty Images News Services, complied, dodging bullets along the way. As Hondros approached the soldiers, the commander grabbed a rocket launcher and fired. As the rocket detonated amid a group of attacking rebels, he turned toward Hondros, leapt and issued a battle cry. The photographer clicked his shutter.

The resulting image—an instant of adrenaline-powered glee—appeared on front pages and in magazines from France to Japan to the United States. It was plastered on train station benches in Amsterdam and discussed in art galleries in Colorado, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. It became a defining image of Liberia’s protracted strife.

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