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What We Learned This Week: British Photojournalist Tom Stoddart Dies at 67

By David Schonauer   Friday November 26, 2021


He covered conflicts and disasters from Lebanon to Bosnia, and more.

This week we learned that acclaimed British photojournalist Tom Stoddart died of cancer on Nov. 17 at his home in the English village of Ponteland. He was 67. During a four-decade career, he was a freelancer contributing to the Times and Sunday Times of London, Time and Newsweek magazines, wire services and other publications around the world, documenting, as The Washington Post put it, “the fury of war, the anguish of AIDS patients, the hopefulness of suffering children and the silent shock of New Yorkers looking from the Staten Island ferry at the smoking void where the twin towers had just collapsed.”

“Tom instinctively recognized stories with a moral imperative and was dedicated to bringing them to people’s attention,” wrote Roger Hutchings at The Guardian. “He was compassionate and wanted people to know about situations that needed to be corrected.” In 1992, Hutchings noted, Stoddart photographed the siege of Sarajevo, “producing pictures that showed the extremity of Sarajevans’ lives and their struggle for everyday survival without running water and electricity, and under constant threat from the snipers on the surrounding hillsides.”

Stoddart followed a gut instinct in 1989 and went to Berlin, paying his own way, and fell into one of the biggest stories of the 20th century—the fall of the Berlin Wall. He also photographed British prime ministers and took one of the most iconic images of Lady Diana Spencer just before her engagement to Prince Charles was announced, noted The Post.

According to Hutchings, Stoddart was particularly pleased when another photographer of some note praised his work when it was shown at the Arles photo festival in France in 1997. The other photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, wrote to the curator praising the exhibition, “something Tom might not have imagined in 1970 when he started out on the local newspaper in his native northeast England, noted Hutchings.

Here are some of the other photo stories we covered this week:
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1. Rosalind Fox Solomon Looks Back at 'The Forgotten'

Victims of landmines in Cambodia. Children caught up in the violence of Northern Ireland. A Black housekeeper kneeling on the floor next to a smiling white mother and daughter in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1988. A man in New York reckoning the devastation of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. These, we noted, are some of the images collected in photographer Rosalind Fox Solomon's new book The Forgotten (MACK), a look back at her long career and people she encountered—people "chained to events in history that have permanently affected how they live.”


2. The W. Eugene Smith Fund's 2021 Flash Print Sale

The W. Eugene Smith Fund has presented more than $1 million to documentary photographers around the world. To help raise funds for future grant recipients, many of these photographers have donated photos for this year’s Smith Fund annual print sale (through Dec. 5), among them Donna Ferrato, Eugene Richards, Yael Martínez (above) Darcy Padilla, Moises Saman, Peter van Agtmael, and Eugene Smith (archives). All prints will be issued as unsigned open editions and printed by Digital Silver Imaging as 11x14-inch archival pigment prints on Hahnemühle paper.


3. Portraits of an American Crisis

For nearly a decade, Philip Montgomery has chronicled the United States through a sequence of paroxysms. He went to Ferguson, Missouri, after the shooting of Michael Brown, to the epicenter of the opioid epidemic in Ohio. He covered the tumult of the presidential conventions in 2016 and the struggles of frontline medical personnel during the height of the covid pandemic in New York City. His images of an American dystopia are gathered in the new book Philip Montgomery: American Mirror, notes The New Yorker.


4. Charles Traub Looks at Life in 'Tickety-Boo'

Photographer and educator Charles Traub’s new book Tickety-Boo (Damiani) “puts aside any attempt to describe a specific thing, like war or the theater of politics,” declared The Washington Post, adding that the Traub’s new work “serves as a response to the ever-evolving complexities of life.” Over the span of four years, Traub used a smartphone to record memories and sites as he went about his days, ultimately creating a series of diptychs to form what the publisher calls “a kind of pictorial completeness.”


5. Exploring the Epicenter of Fake News in Macedonia

Misinformation is everywhere on the internet. Back in 2016, the year Donald Trump was elected president, a lot of it came from a provincial North Macedonian town named Veles. Home to some 40,000 people, Veles earned a degree of notoriety at the time when tech-savvy local youth in the city created hundreds of clickbait websites posing as American political news portals. More recently photographer Jonas Bendiksen went there to explore the city and the nature of fake news. The result, we noted, is The Book of Veles, a collection of AI-altered images and AI-generated text that blends reality and fiction.
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At top: from Philip Montgomery: American Mirror

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