Chris Hondros was fatally wounded today in Misurata, Libya. The New York Times reports that he died around 10 p.m. after suffering extensive brain injuries.
Chris Hondros was one of the finest photographers I’ve ever known. As an IRP Fellow in 2001, he traveled to the Niger Delta to shoot some amazing photos in that conflict-prone region. One of his Nigeria photos hangs above my desk to this day. Chris richly deserved his reputation as a pro’s pro.
His Iraq photos are legendary. In 2007, he spoke about his work on a panel that we organized about reporting in Iraq. What I remember from that panel was his humility about his work. Despite all of the tragedy and heartbreak that he had witnessed and documented, Chris was always positive about life, work and his friends.
Watch an audio slideshow of Chris’s work and listen as he describes the dangers of conflict reporting.
Chris filed a series of photos before his injury, capturing clashes between the rebel fighters and alleged government sympathizers hiding out in the besieged city. These stunning images complete Chris’s already impressive collection of photos from war zones, regions of conflict and other areas to which Chris was drawn.
As a veteran war photographer, Chris knew and accepted the risks under which he and his colleagues work. That doesn’t make it any easier to deal with the tragedy of his loss. He had close calls in Iraq, where he made more than a dozen reporting trips. Every time he visited us in Washington on his trips home, we’d ask, “are you going back again?” and he’d shrug his shoulders and say, “sure, as long as the war goes on.” Yet his professionalism never meant that he was indifferent to the suffering he recorded in his images. His photos are raw with emotion.
When he wasn’t working, Chris knew how to relax and enjoy life. The photos we have of him at various IRP reunions and social gatherings show him smiling and enjoying the company of his fellow journalists. Chris never felt that he needed to dominate a gathering. He had a quiet grace, and was increasingly a mentor to the young journalists coming up in a profession that, sadly, will always need people who are willing to take personal risks.
Our community has lost a wonderful member. We are all deeply saddened by his passing, and offer our condolences to his family and friends.