28-year-old, award-winning war photojournalist Rémi Ochlik (along with reporter Marie Colvin) was killed in Homs, Syria, doing the invaluable job he loved: capturing images of conflict to raise awareness among the world’s public.
As the Slate article linked to above explains, Ochlik was recently honored by World Press Photo for his incredible work in Lybia (you can check it out at his website, also posted above), which captured some of the most significant moments of the uprising and conflict in that country. He has traveled from his home in France throughout the Middle East and around the world, from one conflict zone to another, intent on exposing the photographic truth of every situation.
It brings tears to my eyes imagining the kind of drive and love it must take to pursue such a career. I have the deepest respect for Ochlik, Colvin, and all photojournalists’ work. Regardless of who they may have been in life otherwise, to me their sacrifice deserves the utmost respect. They are the necessary counterweight in any conflict: accountability.
A young man only a couple of years older than me, he obviously cared enough about documenting these dangerous events to put himself in harm’s way. Not that I’m ashamed, but what I’m doing here on this blog feels like nothing more than child’s play by comparison.
In today’s rapid-fire media culture where we’re always on to the next thing before the current thing has a chance at meaning, most don’t often give a thought to the people who put their lives on the line to bring forth evidence of human wrong-doing and suffering. Many images are quickly processed, flicker in your memory, and forgotten before long. Images like those captured by Olchik and his peers are not those. Though the U.S. and its citizens are largely isolated from the rest of the world and its problems due to geographic serendipity, humanity at large needs to be engaged with injustices elsewhere, and that was obviously Ochlik’s mission.
I’m feeling emotional, yes, and it sounds like hyperbole, but it is vital that we appreciate such devoted sources of information for their veracity and significance. For proof of what Ochlik and other journalists’ work means to the people they document, watch this video, embedded in the Slate article, in which protesters in Syria honor those journalists’ sacrifices with a pledge to never forget.