Hondros: Powerful Images of War by Chris Hondros, Subject of a New Film

20030720 liberia
July 20, 2003: Joseph Duo, a Liberian militia commander loyal to the government, exults after firing a rocket-propelled grenade at rebel forces at a key strategic bridge in Monrovia. Chris Hondros/Getty Images

"The problem with war photography is that there is absolutely no way to do it from a distance. You have to be close." In April 2011, renowned photojournalist Chris Hondros got too close. He was killed in the same mortar attack in the rebel-held Libyan town of Misrata that took the life of Oscar-nominated British film-maker and photographer Tim Hetherington.

chris hondros Chris Hondros, who was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade while on assignment in Misrata, on April 20, 2011. Getty Images

Hondros is the subject of a new documentary film, directed by fellow journalist and childhood friend Greg Campbell, who he worked alongside in Kosovo, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Campbell was with Hondros in Libya until just a week before the mortar attack that ended his life. 

Campbell takes viewers on a global journey to meet the people in Hondros's most influential photographs, uncovering their little-known backstories.

Hondros shot to fame during the 2003 Liberian civil war, with a photograph of government commander Joseph Duo celebrating after firing an RPG at rebel positions near a contested bridge in Monrovia. Hondros went back to Liberia after the civil war. He tracked down Duo and paid for his college tuition. 

20030720 liberia July 20, 2003: Joseph Duo, a Liberian militia commander loyal to the government, exults after firing a rocket-propelled grenade at rebel forces at a key strategic bridge in Monrovia. Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Hondros was driven to find the human angle of war photography. His photo of a young Iraqi girl crying after her parents were accidentally shot as they drove through a U.S. checkpoint led to worldwide outrage and  a change in U.S. military protocols. The film follows in Hondros' footsteps as he returns to Iraq to find out what happened to the girl in the photo. 

20050118 girl cry January 18, 2005: Children cry after their parents were killed when U.S. Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division out of Ft. Lewis, Washington, fired on their car when it failed to stop and came toward soldiers despite warning shots during a dusk patrol in Tal Afar, Iraq. Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Campbell says: "Chris’ skills as a photojournalist were matched only by the humanity he displayed in every situation. After studying so many of his photos in producing the film, I noticed his tendency to shoot humane moments amid turbulent events, particularly with children who were caught up in the wars that he covered. It wasn’t until we began shooting in the many places where he left his footprints that we were able to see just how much of a lasting impact he had had on so many people who remember him fondly.

"I always thought we would have plenty of time to hear the stories of his career, of his famous photographs, and of the people he met and befriended, often during the most extreme situations of their lives, but when he was killed in Misrata, Libya in April 2011, the chance to better understand him and his experiences died as well. 

"Directing this film gave me the opportunity to learn – as much as was possible – about the life Chris led behind the lens, and about the impact he had on people living far from the comforts that most of us are used to."

An annual award for photojournalism has been set up in Hondros's name. It continues his legacy of creating a visual history through his distinctive ability to bring shared human experiences into the public eye.

“I’m not one of these people who got into war photography for the rush," Hondros said. "I believe in the role that journalists—and photographers specifically—play in the whole system of international conflict."

Over the last decade of his life, the US-born photographer covered some of the world's major conflict zones, including Liberia, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti and—ultimately—Libya. In this gallery, we present a retrospective of his work.

20010913 wtc September 13, 2001: Early morning light hits the smoke and wreckage of the World Trade Center in New York City, two days after the twin towers were destroyed when hit by two hijacked passenger jets. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20030416 saddam April 16, 2003: A U.S. Marine pulls down a picture of Saddam Hussein at a school in Al-Kut, Iraq. A combination team of Marines, Army and Special Forces went to schools and other facilities in Al-Kut looking for weapons caches and unexploded bombs in preparation for removing and neutralizing them. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20030715 liberia families July 15, 2003: Refugees crowd into a Masonic temple converted into a camp in the Liberian capital of Monrovia. Hundreds of thousands of Liberians converged on the capital as they fled from fighting in the country's 13-year civil war. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20030725 liberia woman July 26, 2003 : A woman grieves over the body of a relative outside a church that was shelled in Monrovia, Liberia Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20030730 child July 30, 2003: A child soldier loyal to the government walks away from firing while another taunts them in Monrovia, Liberia. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20031126 women November 26, 2003: Fearful women and children watch paratroopers in the 1-504th regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division, nicknamed the "Red Devils" raid their house, a suspected militant compound in Nassar el al Salaam, Iraq. The overnight raid netted two men suspected of militant activities against American forces. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20031215 saddam December 15, 2003: American soldiers look at a Styrofoam cover that plugged up the 'spider hole' where Saddam Hussein had been hiding when he was captured two days earlier in Ad Dawr, Iraq. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20050618 iraq June 18, 2005: A U.S. Marine with the 1st Battalion, Sixth Marines smokes a cigarette while in transit during Operation Dagger in Anbar Province, Iraq. The mission was aimed at sweeping rugged desert areas in Anbar Province, near Fallujah, searching for insurgents and contraband weapons. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20050624 arrested June 24, 2005: Detained men sit, bound and blindfolded, under the light of the moon after being detained by Marines of the Third Battalion, Fourth Marines near Fallujah, Iraq. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20050904 katrina September 4, 2005: A man walks through brackish water as he makes his way through the Ninth Ward neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana. Hurricane Katrina dealt the city a devastating blow when it came ashore August 29. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20050907 katrina September 7, 2005: Staff Sgt. Don Davis of the Oklahoma National Guard patrols patrols a flooded neighborhood searching for Hurricane Katrina victims who didn't want to evacuate in New Orleans, Louisiana. The mayor ordered out the remaining holdouts in New Orleans, and said force would be used if necessary. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20060208 iraq February 8, 2006: An Iraqi man is held against a Humvee by a U.S. Marine after being searched during snap vehicle checks in Ramadi, Iraq. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20060626 marine June 26, 2005: U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Shawn Spicher, from Hemet, California, is reflected in a mirror at his field base in Fallujah, Iraq. Spicher, 21, with the Third Battalion, Fourth Marines, participated in combat in Fallujah and elsewhere during his two tours in Iraq, and said he had learned 'that this life can be over in an instant.' Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20061202 marine kneel December 2, 2006: An Iraqi boy looks at Sgt.Trevor Warrior of the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment of the Second Infantry Division (the 'Stryker Brigade') from a room where women and children were being sequestered in the tense Shulah neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq. Soldiers with the 1-23 were searching house-to-house for weapons or other insurgency-related items, and women and children were held in a separate room from the men of the house. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20070208 insurgent February 8, 2007: U.S. Army Sgt. Sergej Mithaud, of El Paso, Texas, from 1st Cavalry Division, Charlie company 2-12, smokes after treating a suspected Iraqi Shia insurgent they had shot earlier and tracked by his blood trail, in the Gazaliyah neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20070216 young February 16, 2007: Pfc. Devin Franey of Oakland, New Jersey of the 2-12 Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division, smokes a cigarette at Combat Outpost Casino before a mission in the Gazaliyah neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20070227 injured girl February 27, 2007: Spc. Reynolds Lara, a medic with the 28th Combat Support Hospital based in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, sits with an Iraqi girl after she had been stabilized from shrapnel wounds when a family gathering was hit in a mortar attack in the Dora neighborhood in Baghdad, Iraq. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20070823 mourners August 23, 2007: Michael Patrick Shepherd, 3, stands next to his father, fighterfighter Mike Shepherd, during the funeral for New York firefighter Joseph Graffagnino in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Graffagnino, 33, was killed along with another firefighter battling a blaze at the abandoned Deutsche Bank building next to Ground Zero on August 18. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20071122 thanksgiving November 22, 2007: A soldier in the First Cavalry Division eats with his weapon close at hand during a Thanksgiving day dinner at Forward Operating Base Rustamiyah in Baghdad, Iraq. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20080814 gori August 14, 2008: An elderly Russian woman who had been living in Georgia most of her life looks around outside her bombed-out apartment block in Gori, Georgia. Tensions continued in the north Georgian city as Russian and Georgian forces negotiated over an end to hostilities. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20080816 georgia August 16, 2008: Desperate Georgians line up for humanitarian food distribution in Gori. Russia signed a cease fire agreement with Georgia, but continued their grip on the city of Gori, where many inhabitants hadn't had access to much food since hostilities broke out a week earlier. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20091006 letter October 6, 2009: Spc. Matthew King of Lompoc, California reads a card from his mother during a rare mail call in Forward Operating Base Zerok in Paktika province, Afghanistan. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20091022 afghan October 22, 2009: Afghan children watch a Canadian army soldier patrolling with soldiers from the US Army's 293rd Military Police as they conduct a dusk patrol in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20091029 dead October 29, 2009: An image of fallen soldier Pfc. Devin J. Michel of Stockton, Illinois is seen on a television brought outside for a memorial service in his honor at Forward Operating Base Wilson near Kandahar, Afghanistan. Michel, 19, was killed by an explosive device during a foot patrol October 24 in nearby Zhari province. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20100115 haiti bodies January 15, 2010: A man points to hundreds of bodies piled up outside the morgue and main hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after a powerful 7.0-strong earthquake devastated the impoverished Caribbean nation. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20100117 haiti January 17, 2010: Looters take goods from the rubble of a shop in the downtown business district in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in the aftermath of the historic earthquake that devastated the capital. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20100122 haiti kid January 21, 2010: U.S. Army Lt. Col. Robert Malsby of Marietta, Georgia of the 82nd Airborne Division comforts Narlie, age 4, who was seriously wounded in the earthquake and has been earmarked for emergency care aboard the USS Comfort in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20100125-pregnant January 25, 2010: A United Nations peacekeeper from Uruguay carries a pregnant Haitian woman who lost consciousness in a massive crowd during a rice distribution for earthquake-displaced Haitians in front of the National Palace in Port-au-Prince. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20100622 sleeping June 22, 2010: A paratrooper in the 4th Brigade of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division sleeps in a field before dawn in Khushi Khona, in the northern reaches of Afghanistan's Herat Province, near the Turkmenistan border. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20100911 wtc September 11, 2010: A boy sits in silence on the edge of a reflecting pool in memory of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City. Thousands gathered to pay solemn homage on the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20101012 afghan girl October 12, 2010: Halawasha, an Afghan Pashtun girl, holds her badly burned young sister Shokria, while a medic in the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division wraps her serious burns, in the tiny village of Now Ruzi west of Kandahar, Afghanistan. The soldiers were on a routine patrol when they came across Shokria, who had third-degree burns over both forearms from a household accident with scalding milk five days earlier; the only medical attention the wounds had had was a dirty cloth bandage. Army medics dressed the burns and began working with local Afghan military to have the girl driven to a hospital in nearby Kandahar. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20101021 afghan October 21, 2010: An Afghan girl stands in the ruins Darul Aman Palace on the outskirts of Kabul. The massive palace was built in the early 1920s as part of a modernizing push by Afghanistan's ruler at the time, but religious conservatives stymied the effort and the grandiose palace fell into disuse, and later was shelled into ruins by warlords during the Afghan civil war of the early 1990s. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20110129 egypt January 29, 2011: An Egyptian man looks out onto a burning government building from a bridge in Cairo. Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in cities across Egypt to call for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20110130 prayer January 30, 2011: An Egyptian Army soldier prays along with anti-government protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20110202 camel February 2, 2011: A supporter of embattled Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak rides a camel through the melee during a clash between pro-and anti-government protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20110203 suspect February 3, 2011: A man suspected of being a member of the Egyptian government security forces is roughly handled by anti-government protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20110206 tahrir February 6, 2011: Food is offered to a wounded anti-government protester who spent the night manning makeshift barriers in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20110211 joy February 11, 2011 : A woman cries with joy in Tahrir Square in Cairo after it was announced that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was giving up power following 18 days of widespread protests. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20110406 rebel April 6, 2011: A rebel commander looks through binoculars as he talks on a radio near front-line positions outside of Brega, Libya. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20110410 noses April 10, 2011: Rebel fighters hold their noses as they view the charred remains of Libyan army loyalist soldiers that were bombed by NATO forces on the outskirts of Ajdabiyah, Libya. NATO aircraft hit the trucks during an attack on rebels holding the strategic town, leaving behind the burned remains of at least 15 government troops. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20110415 traffic April 15, 2011: Ali Salem el-Faizani, 10, works as a traffic cop in Benghazi, Libya. Schools had been closed throughout eastern Libya for months due to the ongoing civil conflict. Some children like Ali worked to pass the time. 'I like directing the cars around,' Ali said. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20110418 hole April 18, 2011: A rebel fighter moves through a hole punched in a wall near the front line fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata, Libya. Tripoli Street once was Misrata's posh main avenue for shops and expensive apartments, but weeks of house-to-house battles between forces loyal to Libyan ruler Moammar Gaddafi and rebels had left it in ruins. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20110420 men April 20, 2011: Rebel fighters carefully move into a building where they had trapped government loyalist troops during street fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misurata, Libya. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20110420 stairs April 20, 2011: A rebel fighter runs up a burning stairwell during an effort to dislodge some ensconced government loyalist troops who were firing on them from an upstairs room during house-to-house fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata, Libya. Chris Hondros/Getty Images 20110420 last April 20, 2011: A Libyan rebel fighter fires into a basement during an effort to dislodge some ensconced government loyalist troops who were firing on them during house-to-house fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata. Chris Hondros/Getty Images

The documentary, Hondros, will be released in selected theaters in the U.S. and U.K. on Friday, March 2. It will be available on iTunes and Amazon from March 6, and on Netflix from July 1. 

 

 

Editor's Pick