I’ve seen two dramatic video pieces this week, in which the central character is a photojournalist, and the subject is conflict. Each piece was about what individuals are compelled by conscience to do, to strive to achieve. Both were an ‘uncompromised portrait’, one being labeled as such by it’s creator.

But they were profoundly different.

One was intended to sell German cars, and was unsettling. But if I’m honest, it was rather ill-judged given the back story to the event portrayed and the manner of its portrayal. Enough has been written about this elsewhere if you’re at all interested.

The other video was more than a little unsettling also.

And whilst sometimes violent, it was also strangely life-affirming, in places upbeat, insightful and, in the end it left me filled with respect for the subject, and profoundly sad that such a life had been so prematurely ended. If you’ve not seen the Storyville documentary about photojournalist Tim Hetherington, you really should watch it: Which Way is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington.


Hetherington 1
Screenshot © BBC4 iPlayer


The reflection of his worth and his integrity, as glimpsed through the reminiscences of those who knew him: his friends, his colleagues, his parents and his lover, painted a remarkable picture, and is a touching and appropriate testimonial to his humanity. It reveals his overwhelming desire to try to make a difference, even if only in small personal ways. It is worth watching just to hear Sebastian Junger’s final, heartfelt observation about ‘loss’ and ‘truth’ in the closing moments.

Tim Hetherington obviously touched people in life, and in death he touched me too, late last night alone in my living room.



  • Spongebob squarepants

    “Tim Hetherington obviously touched people in life, and in death he touched me too, late last night alone in my living room.”

    You and me both John. A very powerful film.

  • Thanks for this John.

    I saw the film some time back. It’s superb.

    • Aye it was a well-judged piece that really hit home, and obviously crafted with huge respect.

John MacPherson was born and lives in the Scottish Highlands. He trained as a welder in the Glasgow shipyards, before completing an apprenticeship as a carpenter, and then qualified as a Social Worker in Disability Services. Along the way he has cooked on canal barges, trained as an Alpine Ski Leader & worked as an Instructor for Skiers with disabilities, been a canoe instructor, and tutor of night classes in carpentry, stained glass design and manufacture, and archery. He has travelled extensively on various continents, undertaking solo trips by bicycle, or motorcycle. He has had narrow escapes from an ambush by terrorists, been hit by lightning, caught in an erupting volcano, trapped in a mobile home by a tornado, kidnapped by a dog's hairdresser, rammed by a basking shark and was once bitten by a wild otter. He has combined all this with professional photography, which he has practised for over 35 years. He teaches photography and acts as a photography guide & tutor in the UK and abroad. His biggest challenge is keeping his 27 year old Land Rover 110 on the road. He loves telling and hearing stories.

More articles from John Macpherson