Tragedy Far Away in a Small World…by Johnny Bivera

Nominees for Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award pay Ultimate Sacrifice

Wednesday, April 22 – I have many things to be thankful for like my family, health, friends and colleagues.  News struck today slowly about photojournalists killed and injured in Libya while I was out in morning traffic, and I asked myself if I knew them?  Then a little while later on NPR they said the names, my eyes glazed and my heart began to weigh, a sudden deep breath and I whispered “oh no”.

To be personally associated with photographers killed or injured while in the conflict zone sobers me into the reality of what’s at stake.  And that no matter how much we hide behind the false protection of our camera, we as photographers are prone to injury and fatality, as death plays out what I fear is, an indiscriminate act in who’s life it decides to take.  I assume it has no care for division but for soul.  And when it takes from someone we know, a part of us is taken with it.

We hear and watch the news of troubles from far away but yet, as for what the journalists bring back for us to read and see, we enjoy it in relative safety and comfort from troubles that do not directly affect us until the messengers are ones we know.  We are a society of desensitized humans; violence viewed in the media is a daily affair where our psyche has made it bearable for us to accept.  It is a human act in protecting oneself from emotion that could possibly prove overwhelming.  But that’s why our messengers must play their roles in places far and away for us in the safety of our peace and order.  We must all be thankful for those that sacrifice their life daily so that we continue to see the reality of poverty, chaos and despair, to never forget that it’s out there, nearer than we realize, that we are ever thankful for our blessings.

Like so many of our professionals who have given unlimited support to me, my family, friends and colleagues; Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington who died today covering the Libyan conflict are those very people.  Chris was giving in his support to other photographers as he was to me a few years ago while visiting DC.  His mentorship and guidance helped me with a project that ended successfully.  And for that his words echo still.  Tim was supposed to meet my team this May in support of the very first DC video shoot off for our military and civil service photographers.  We are honored by his gesture but very saddened for the loss of a truly gifted talent and giving person.

To all those that are out there far away in harms way in our small world, I pray for your safety and very thankful for what you do!

Thursday, April 23 – Again in traffic and driving home in the relative safety of my car, I catch NPR’s Fresh Air as they release Terry Gross’ interview with Bang Bang Club co-writers, Joao Silva & Greg Marinovich as they talk about injuries and ethics of being combat photographers.  The interview was conducted on Tuesday,  the day before the Libyan incident with Chris and Tim above… It is an ironic sense of timing.

See more on “Restrepo”


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