In 'Which Way,' A War Photographer In His Element

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Spc. Tad Donoho screams with pain in 2008 after being administered a "pink belly" for his birthday in Korengal Valley, Kunar province, Afghanistan. Each member of the platoon strikes his stomach until it begins to bruise, hence the name pink belly. From the book Infidel. (Magnum Photos)
Spc. Tad Donoho screams with pain in 2008 after being administered a "pink belly" for his birthday in Korengal Valley, Kunar province, Afghanistan. Each member of the platoon strikes his stomach until it begins to bruise, hence the name pink belly. From the book Infidel. (Magnum Photos)

At the 2011 Academy Awards, the film Restrepo was among the documentaries nominated for an Oscar. It follows an American platoon on a remote mountaintop in what was, at the time, the most dangerous place in Afghanistan.

To make the film, writer Sebastian Junger teamed up with British photojournalist Tim Hetherington — who, walking the red carpet that night at the Oscars, might as well have been a young actor straight out of central casting: tall, handsome, charismatic.

Six weeks later, Hetherington would be dead, killed in the siege of Misrata during Libya's civil war.

He was just 40 years old, but well into a career capturing indelible images of conflict.

Now, a documentary directed by Junger follows Hetherington's life as a war photographer, from his earliest days covering the civil war in Liberia to his final days in Misrata.

A soldier rests at the end of a day of heavy fighting at the Restrepo outpost in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. This image won the 2007 World Press Photo of the Year award. "The funny thing about war, it actually almost never hardens people," Junger says. "It almost always humanizes them, and I think war humanized Tim tremendously because it inflicted so much pain on him."
A soldier rests at the end of a day of heavy fighting at the Restrepo outpost in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. This image won the 2007 World Press Photo of the Year award. "The funny thing about war, it actually almost never hardens people," Junger says. "It almost always humanizes them, and I think war humanized Tim tremendously because it inflicted so much pain on him."

It's called Which Way Is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington.

Junger spoke with NPR's Renee Montagne about the life, work and goals of his friend and colleague. Excerpts from that conversation are transcribed in the image captions above; and listen to the Morning Edition audio by clicking on the player above.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright NPR. View this article on npr.org.