You are currently browsing the archives for the Obituary category.

October 5th, 2011

Sipa Press Founder Goksin Sipahioglu Dies

©Alix William/Sipa--Goksin Sipahioglu in 2003.

Goksin Sipahioglu, a former photojournalist and founder of the Sipa Press photo agency, died earlier today at the American hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris, at the age of 84. He was surrounded by family and friends, according to Guillame Delpech, who is Photo Editor of Sipa Press USA. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Sipahioglu founded his photo agency in 1973 with American journalist Phyllis Springer. Sipa Press became part of the triumvirate (along with Gamma and Sygma) of French pictures agencies that dominated international photo news coverage in the 1970s and 1980s.

The three agencies relied on couriers to gather film from contributing photographers stationed all over the world, duplicated the original film en masse, and distributed so-called “picture packages” of duplicate images to magazine and newspaper clients throughout Europe, the Americas, and Asia.

Robert Dannin, who worked for Sipa from 1978 to 1981, remembers Sipahioglu as a shrewd businessman who invested in a state-of-the-art commercial processing and printing operation “to subsidize his dream of a world class photo agency. No one else did this,” Dannin says. “They did work for event photographers, political campaigns, retailers, etc. One extraordinary job was a 1980 contract from the Iranian Ministry of Religious Guidance to make hundreds of large format color prints to decorate their embassies worldwide in celebration of the first anniversary of the revolution. In this case, it was no coincidence that the photographer, Hatami, covered the revolution for Sipa.”

Dannin also says Sipahioglu “viewed the world through the eyes of an Ottoman pasha” and hired beautiful woman “as accessories to his business…to drive every male in the place insane with lust. They were like sirens on a Venetian prow head.” Dannin says, “[Sipahioglu] was an anti-management manager” and adds, “Sipa’s highly eroticized agency was inspiring to say the least.”

A number of Sipa’s contributing photographers complained bitterly, however, that the agency cheated them out of royalties by not reporting sales of their images. Dannin says that was “consistent” with how the other agencies treated entry-level photojournalists, and that Sipahioglu “got away with it because he was giving people a start in the business.”

Sipahioglu was born in Izmir, Turkey in 1926. He graduated from the French Lycée Saint Joseph in Istanbul, and began his career as a sports reporter for the Istanbul Ekspress newspaper in 1952. In 1961 he began covering international stories for various dailies, and began taking pictures while on assignment. His images were distributed by Black Star, Gamma and other agencies before starting his own photo agency.

In 2001, he sold the agency to Sud Communications (which is owned by French industrialist Pierre Fabre). He continued as director of Sipa Press  until 2003.

He is survived by Phyllis Springer, whom he married in 2002.

September 22nd, 2011

Beatles Photographer Robert Whitaker Dies

©Robert Whitaker--the original "Yesterday And Today" cover

Photographer Robert Whitaker, best known for the hundreds of behind-the-scenes images and album cover shots he made of The Beatles from 1964 to 1966 when the band was rising to international fame, died September 20 in the UK. The cause of death was cancer, according to a UK Press Association report.

Whitaker was part of the Australian art scene in the early 1960s when he accompanied a journalist friend to interview Brian Epstein, the manager of The Beatles. At the time, the band was touring Australia and Asia. Epstein was impressed by Whitaker’s work, and invited him to accompany the band as a tour photographer.

Whitaker accepted, moved back to London where he had begun his career in the late 1950s (he was born in the UK in 1939), and went to work photographing various bands for Epstein’s management company, NEMS Enterprises.

Whitaker accompanied The Beatles on their second tour of the US in 1965, photographing them at their famous Shea Stadium concert, among other venues.  From 1964 to 1966, he had almost complete access to the band while it was on tour and in the studio.

©Robert Whitaker--the hasty replacement image for the same album.

He is credited with several Beatles album covers, including the original–and highly controversial–”butcher” cover for the album Yesterday And Today. It showed the four Beatles dressed in lab coats and wearing false teeth while holding dismembered dolls and pieces of raw meat. The cover was quickly withdrawn amid public outrage and some speculation that it was intended as acerbic social commentary.

Capitol Records, the band’s record company, told the Associate Press that it was the band’s idea of “pop art satire.” John Lennon told an interviewer in 1980 that the band posed for the picture out of boredom at having to pose for yet another picture.

The image was replaced on the album cover with a photograph that Whitaker shot hastily in Epstein’s office of the band gathered around a trunk. Whitaker later described the replacement image as “far more stupid than anything else I could think of,” according to various accounts of the image. Copies of the album with the original “butcher” photo now fetch thousands of dollars on the Beatles memorabilia market.

Whitaker left NEMS when The Beatles took a break from touring in 1966. He stayed in London to photograph other musicians, including Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger, and also covered news events–Including the Vietnam War–for Time and Life magazines.

Whitaker’s books include Eight Days A Week: Inside the Beatles Final World Tour (2008), Unseen Beatles (1998) and In the Company of Dali (2007), which is a collection of images he shot of the Spanish surrealist in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

June 29th, 2011

Death of a Photojournalist (and Super Hero) Announced

Peter Parker, who was arguably the most famous newspaper photojournalist (albeit a fictional one) and superhero, has died. The final installment in the “Death of Spider-Man” comic book series went on sale June 22, Marvel Comic announced last week. (Speculation that Parker, Spider-Man’s alter ego, committed suicide after scathing reviews of his Broadway musical, “Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark,” are currently unfounded.)

Longtime fans of the web-slinger needn’t fear, though. The Spider-Man killed in this month’s Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #160 is a re-imagined version created in 2000 under Marvel Comics’ Ultimate Marvel imprint as part of an effort to appeal to a younger audience. One recent storyline involved Parker being fired from the Daily Bugle for doctoring photos.

While the Ultimate Marvel version was being published, the original Spider-Man was having his own adventures in several series that were published concurrently. The more seasoned Spider-Man, created in 1962 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, will continue to grace his own monthly titles.

Somehow we knew the real Peter Parker would never Photoshop photos meant for publication.

May 25th, 2011

Hetherington Memorialized by Family, Colleagues and Subjects

Tim Hetherington’s friends and family were joined by soldiers from the platoon depicted in Restrepo, Hetherington’s award-winning documentary, to celebrate the photographer/filmmaker’s life and recall his talent and generosity at a memorial service held May 24 in New York City. Hetherington was killed in Misrata, Libya, on April 20 in a rocket attack that also killed photographer Chris Hondros and wounded two other photographers.

Standing at the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church with three other soldiers from the platoon with which Hetherington had been embedded in Afghanistan, former Sergeant Brendan O’Byrne spoke before a crowd of several hundred mourners. He began to deliver a prepared speech, then stopped. He said the speech “didn’t feel right,” and he wanted instead to speak directly about “what Tim meant to us,” the soldiers deployed to the remote Restrepo outpost in the Korengal Valley. “He came a stranger and left a brother,” said O’Byrne. “He went out there again and again and again. He didn’t have to.” He noted, “If it weren’t for him, our stories would have been lost in the chaos of war.”

O’Byrne said Hetherington continued their friendship after their time in Afghanistan.  “I came home with a massive amount of PTSD. Tim let me stay in his house,” and asked for nothing in return. “He said, ‘Get your feet on the ground, and don’t drink.’ ” O’Byrne said he had no words to describe what Hetherington meant to the platoon. “We cared about him so much.”

In his eulogy, writer Sebastian Junger, Hetherington’s frequent collaborator and co-director on Restrepo,  explained how Hetherington earned the respect and trust of the soldiers. “He was terrifyingly brave, and he made them laugh. If you can do only those two things and not fall behind on patrol they [the soldiers] are good to you.”

Junger said, “Tim changed the world with his work, and the world changed him. He was seeking those changes.” He said Hetherington “allowed people access to his heart.” In his work in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, Junger said, Hetherington was a better journalist thanks to his openness to experiences and people.

Idil Ibrahim, Hetherington’s girlfriend, said many mourned him as a talented photographer, filmmaker, teacher, colleague, friend, “and brother from the front line.” To Ibrahim, however, Hetherington was, among other things, “partner, love, future, friend,” as well as “movie star,” “preferred dance partner,” “poet,” and “fashion stylist.” Though she said, “I mourn the loss of our future together” and “the children we’ll never have,” she noted that shortly before Hetherington left for Libya, they had a conversation about death. “I’ve truly lived,” Hetherington told her. She said Hetherington “exuded joie de vivre,” and was “the most brilliant person I know.” She said, “He taught me most about love and for that I’m truly grateful.”

Photographers Chris Anderson and Mike Kamber talked about the Hetherington’s photography. Anderson said that while poring over Hetherington’s work recently, he forgot about photographic craft, and felt that he was seeing into people’s lives. “His work was not about reporting a story but about recording an experience he shared with people,” Anderson said, before reading an impressionistic passage from the foreword to Hetherington’s first book, Long Story Bit by Bit: Liberia Retold, in which he had described the sights and rhythms of a street in Monrovia.

Kamber said that for a generation of photographers, Hetherington seemed to be “leading us forward. He was changing photojournalism. He was also leading us forward as a human being” through his humility and imagination. Hetherington, he said, was capable of “flights of fancy,” like an idea he had to do a piece on soldiers sleeping in their outpost in Afghanistan. The idea became Hetherington’s acclaimed multimedia installation, “Sleeping Soldiers.”

Hetherington’s sister and brother, Victoria and Guy, shared stories of how Hetherington’s energy, curiosity and desire to engage with people were evident even at a young age. Both siblings emphasized that Hetherington, who was born in England, “loved his life in New York,” and in particular, Victoria noted, “the lifelong friends” he made there.  Victoria noted how much Hetherington enjoyed the company of his friends’ children and his own nephew and niece.  After she informed her children of their uncle’s death, she said, her four-year-old daughter worried that God wouldn’t let him into heaven: “Because he’s the naughtiest person. He throws us in the swimming pool with all our clothes on.”

Victoria quoted a line attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “In the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years,” and expressed her gratitude that her brother had experienced so much in his 40 years.

At the end of the memorial service,  O’Byrne and the three soldiers from his platoon walked up the aisle of the church and presented Hetherington’s family with a folded US flag.

After the memorial, a reception was held at the Aperture Gallery, where an installation of “Sleeping Soldiers” and Hetherington’s video, “Diary,” about his work covering conflict, are on view through June 23.

Related Stories:

Tim Hetherington Killed in Libya

Hetherington, Hondros Families Choose Memorial Charities

Chris Hondros Remembered as Humanist, Friend

Hondros Dies of Injuries in Libya

May 16th, 2011

Tim Hetherington Memorial Service in New York To Be Held May 24

Friends of photographer Tim Hetherington, who was killed in Misrata, Libya on April 20, have organized a memorial service to be held in New York City, where the UK-born Hetherington had lived for several years.

The memorial service will take place May 24 at 4pm at the First Presbyterian Church, located at Fifth Avenue between 11th and 12th Streets in New York City.  (The church’s address is 12 W. 12th Street. Directions can be found on the church’s web site.)

A funeral was held May 13 in London, which was attended by Hetherington’s family and several hundred friends and colleagues.

The photographer’s family has also designated three organizations important to Hetherington where donations can be made in his memory:

Milton Margai School for the Blind,
Sierra Leone
www.miltonmargaischool.org

Human Rights Watch
www.hrw.org

Committee to Protect Journalists
www.cpj.org

Related articles:
Tim Hetherington Killed in Libya

Hetherington, Hondros Loved Ones Choose Memorial Charities

May 4th, 2011

Hetherington, Hondros Loved Ones Choose Memorial Charities

The family of photographer Tim Hetherington, who was killed in Libya on April 20 in an attack by pro-Qaddafi forces, has chosen three charities where donations should be made in  his memory. They represent work Hetherington supported throughout his career:

Human Rights Watch, the independent organization dedicated to defending and protecting human rights, for which Hetherington worked often.:  www.hrw.org

Committee to Protect Journalists: www.cpj.org

Milton Margai School for the Blind in Sierra Leone, a school where Hetherington photographed and worked with students, who had been intentionally blinded by the Revolutionary United Force:  www.miltonmargaischool.org

The family has invited friends and colleagues to a funeral May 13 in London. No public announcement has been made of a memorial in the New York area, where Hetherington lived.

The fiancee of photographer Chris Hondros, also killed in Misrata on April 20th, has formalized plans for a fund in memory of Hondros that will support aspiring photojournalists.  Christine Piaia has set up The Chris Hondos Funf and is now working with financial advisors at Davis Wright Tremaine in New York. Says Piaia, “We are setting up this fund to honor Chris’ memory, protect his colleagues in war-torn areas, and help aspiring journalists and photographers cover these events.”

Contributions may be sent to The Chris Hondros Fund, c/o Getty Images, 75 Varick St., 5th Floor, New York, NY 10013.

April 27th, 2011

Chris Hondros Remembered as Humanist, Friend

An estimated 800 mourners attended the April 27 memorial service for photographer Chris Hondros. The service was held at the Sacred Hearts St. Stephens Church in Brooklyn, where Hondros and his fiancée had planned to hold their wedding this August.  Hondros died in Misrata, Libya on April 20, in a mortar attack that also killed photographer Tim Hetherington.

Hetherington was remembered in prayers offered during the service. Prayers were also offered for “those courageous and steadfast journalists and photographers working in the field today, shining the light of truth on the world,” as well as for “those who live and die with violence and war each day.”

The music of the service, performed by the Brooklyn Rider quartet as well as two church organists, a violinist and trumpet player, included selections by Mahler, Schubert and Bach.  Reporter Regis Le Sommier of Paris Match, who had worked with Hondros in Afghanistan and on many other news stories, noted in his eulogy that Hondros so loved classical music that he had listened to Bach’s Goldberg Variations while waiting out a hurricane in Texas.

In his homily, Father Anthony J. Sansone described Hondros as a “prophetic humanist.” Sansone, who had recently counseled Hondros and his fiancée, Christina Piaia, in preparation for their wedding, said Hondros worked to document “the suffering and the heartbroken” out of a sense of conscience and a commitment to making the public aware of perspectives beyond their own.

Writer Greg Campbell, who had known Hondros since he was 14, said he had received words of condolence from people in 24 countries, including old friends as well as people who only knew Hondros from his photos. He noted that Hondros would have encouraged his friends to maintain the connections and relationships that have formed in what Campbell called “this dark week.” Pancho Bernasconi of Getty Images, who said he liked to call Hondros “my photographer,” said the award-winning photojournalist is remembered as “that rare friend” who offered encouragement and comfort at the worst of times.

Speaking in a clear, calm voice, Piaia noted that on at a recent visit to the church, Hondros had looked out over the pews and talked about how many people they would need to invite to their wedding. Piaia told the standing-room only crowd,  “Now every seat is occupied, every row is filled, but we are celebrating something more profound:  the life of our friend Chris.” Hondros taught her “life is fragile,” she said, adding, “We didn’t take each other for granted.” She told the mourners she did not want them to feel sad, but to know “how fulfilled we have been in the last year.”

At the end of the service, pallbearers Todd Heisler, Tyler Hicks, John Moore, Jeff Swensen, Joe Raedle, Andreas Gebhard, Spencer Platt and Pierce Wright carried the coffin outside, as the church bell tolled 41 times for every year of Hondros’s life.

Related story:

Chris Hondros Dies of Injuries in Libya

Tim Hetherington Killed in Libya

April 25th, 2011

Memorials Planned for Photographers Chris Hondros, Tim Hetherington (Update)

The families of two photojournalists killed in a rocket attack on Misrata, Libya, on April 20 are organizing memorials.

Dean Hondros, brother of photographer Chris Hondros, announced that a memorial service will take place Wednesday, April 27, at 1 pm at Sacred Hearts St. Stephens Church in  Brooklyn. Directions and information are available on the church’s Web site, www.delvecchiorc.com; the phone number is (718) 246-8342.

*Update: The memorial service is scheduled to be streamed live online via ustream.tv.

In lieu of flowers, Hondros’s family and fiancee have suggested donations be made to The Chris Hondros Fund, which has just been launched: “This fund will provide scholarships for aspiring photojournalists and raise awareness of issues surrounding conflict photography.” According to a spokesperson at Getty Images, where Hondros was a staff photographer, the agency is “working with the family to select beneficiary organizations.” More information is expected soon. Donations can be sent to:

The Chris Hondros Fund
c/o Christina Piaia
50 Bridge Street #414
Brooklyn, New York 11201

The family of Tim Hetherington have created a web page, Timhetherington.org/condolences, where remembrances of their son are being posted. On the site, a note from Alistair and Judith Hetherington says, “We will be setting up a charitable organization to continue Tim’s humanitarian work around the world,” and adds, “Information will be posted here in the coming days.”

Related stories:
Tim Hetherington Killed in Libya

Chris Hondros Dies of Injuries in Libya

April 20th, 2011

Chris Hondros Killed in Libya

Award-winning photographer Chris Hondros has died of injuries he sustained in Misrata, Libya earlier today, his agency, Getty Images, has confirmed.

Getty released the following statement:

“Getty Images is deeply saddened to confirm the death of Staff Photographer Chris Hondros who has died of injuries while covering events in Libya on April 20th.  Chris never shied away from the front line having covered the world’s major conflicts throughout his distinguished career and his work in Libya was no exception. We are working to support his family and his fiancée as they receive this difficult news, and are preparing to bring Chris back to his family and friends in the United States.  He will be sorely missed. ”

Tim Hetherington was also killed in the attack. Also injured were photographers Guy Martin and Michael Christopher Brown, according to a report in The New York Times.

An obituary for Hondros has been posted on PDNOnline: “Chris Hondros Dies of Injuries in Libya”

Related story:
Tim Hetherington Killed in Libya

April 20th, 2011

Tim Hetherington Killed In Libya, Others Injured

©Matt Stuart--Photojournalist Tim Hetherington

Photojournalist Tim Hetherington was killed today in Libya while covering the fighting between rebels and troops loyal to Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, The New York Times has confirmed. Hetherington reportedly died after being hit by rocket fire in the city of Mistra.

Getty Images has confirmed that staff photographer Chris Hondros was injured in the same attack, and is in serious condition. The Times says that photographer Guy Martin was also seriously injured, and that photographer Michael Christopher Brown suffered injuries that were less serious.

We will post updates as we gather more information.

Obituary: Tim Hetherington