Tim Page is known as one of the iconic photographers of the Vietnam War. His pictures have appeared in newspapers and magazines around the globe over a career that has spanned five decades. Infamously reputed to be the inspiration for Dennis Hopper’s outlandish character in ‘Apocalypse Now’, Page has had a lauded, and at times, immensely dangerous career that has left him at death’s door on more than one occasion. Through his lens he has shown the world images that define generations and his photographs can be seen in museums and galleries around the world, and within the pages of books.
(The above are from Tim Page’s Vietnam archive)
Now he generously shares with Alison Stieven-Taylor photographs that have never been published (below), images that capture ordinary people struggling for the right to live their lives with dignity and free from harm, to care for their children and to seek what we all want, to be treated with respect, to live in peace. Since hanging up his battle-ready camera, Tim has turned his focus on people suffering the aftermath of conflict. Over the coming months he will share a series of photo essays that will be published here, on Photojournalism Now, for the first time.
Lanka Redux – Published 8 October, 2014
Over three instalments Tim Page will share his photographs from Sri Lanka for the first time. Here is the final collection of 20 images and editorial from Tim.
Written by Tim Page
It started that first day I landed in Serendip. A new zone, a new subject, a new book. Sri Lanka and Buddhism would dominate the next three years. There was no war then and it was close to perfect. The first trip, I went for three weeks and stayed for seven. I drained the island’s supply of slide film. The journey became a spiritual resurrection both for myself and my photography. It became a rich re-awakening after a decade of recovery and rehab from the disasters of war.
The images were rich and revealing, composed from researched moments in prime lighting. Most of the next 18 months would be on the island with dashes to London to process and edit the growing takes. Sri Lanka was then a country of peace with easy access to even the remotest corners. Paradise beaches, lush tropical gardens, long road trips filling in a jigsaw puzzle of pictures that would compose my second book – ‘Sri Lanka’. Then it was done, it was resplendent and pleasing. Somehow my war had receded and I had gone through a rebirth. Indochina would reclaim me at the end of the eighties; Vietnam had opened up and catharsis was required.
Then, a three-week honeymoon on the island was accompanied by a heightening security presence and travel restrictions. Trouble was brewing. War between the separatist Tamil’s in the north and east and the government escalated into a brutal conflict. The Tamil Tigers created the suicide bomber – often female in a new phase of terrorism. The government in Colombo replied in kind. Tourism dropped to nil. Indochina, especially Cambodia had now become my priority as peace was restored to the land the Khmer Rouge had trashed.
In the land originally called Serendip, both the Tamils of Eelan and the government troops made it almost impossible to document the front. In 2002 Norway brokered a peace, there was a lull in the horror and a sort of stalemate ensued; both sides returned to their lines and there was even a peace march the length of the east coast to prove it. I returned to find stark contrasts after 15 years of conflict and was reluctantly issued a laisse passer to travel the restricted front line zones and Tamil hinterlands. The aftermath of conflict is never pretty; here it was more colourful, imbued with a resurgence of all the island’s faiths – Hindu, Christian, Islam and Buddhism.
The chase for images was on. Everywhere business was re-birthing, rebuilding was starting and there was hope in the threatening shadows of unsettled scores. Land mines, UXO’s and checkpoints punctuated the countryside. Razor wire decorated street corners and automatic weapons were evident everywhere. Eventually Sri Lankan defence forces annihilated the remaining Tamil insurgence along with tens of thousands of civilians. The conflict ended in bitterness and relief, but before the country had time to draw breath it was hit by the Boxing Day tsunami.
Sri Lanka struggles to regain its Emerald Isle status in the world community. ‘Redux’ reflects a passage towards that hope.
Lanka Redux – Published 11 April, 2014
14 June 2013 – Cuba – 1988/1989
The Second Instalment – Cuba
10 May 2013 – Cuba – 1988/1989
12 APRIL 2013 – Afghanistan – The Final Entry
This week’s entry features the final instalment of photographs from Tim on Afghanistan – The Men. To see earlier posts please scroll down the page. The next theme is Cuba, coming soon.
9 April, 2013 – Women turn out to vote in Afghanistan 2009
(Above) Women turn out to vote in the UN backed elections in Afghanistan in 2009. Tim Page travelled to Afghanistan for the UN to cover the elections. He was in Afghanistan for four months in 2009. During this time he also ran a masterclass for young photographers and travelled with Khalid Hosseni author of The Kite Runner through the UNHRC Refugee camps.
The war in Afghanistan has left many as amputees and medical staff struggle with limited aid to care for the injured.