Tom Stoddart obituary | Photography

Yoshiko Yap

The photojournalist Tom Stoddart, who has died from cancer aged 67, coated conflicts, catastrophes and social concerns all-around the environment for 40 a long time and was regarded by his peers as an superb practitioner.

I arrived to know Tom in the 1990s when we included the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, usually remaining in the similar location at the same time. Though news photographers are commonly believed of as rivals, our camaraderie grew out of shared adversity and was cemented by our really like for images, especially the use of black and white reportage as a medium. Tom did not like color photography and often quoted the Canadian photographer Ted Grant’s pithy remark: “If you photograph in color, you see the colour of their dresses, but if you photograph in black and white, you see the colour of their soul.”

Tom instinctively recognised tales with a moral critical and was dedicated to bringing them to people’s interest. He was compassionate and needed folks to know about cases that needed to be corrected. In 1992 he photographed the siege of Sarajevo, creating pictures that showed the extremity of Sarajevans’ life and their struggle for day-to-day survival with out functioning h2o and electrical energy, and underneath continual danger from the snipers on the bordering hillsides.

Tom Stoddart digs out his Lada Niva after a heavy snowfall in Sarajevo, 1995.
Tom Stoddart digs out his Lada Niva soon after a heavy snowfall in Sarajevo, 1995. Photograph: Roger Hutchings

The pictures were printed close to the earth, highlighting the crisis and helping to raise it to the major of the political agenda in European capitals. Later on that yr he returned to the metropolis and was injured in the course of a bombardment near the parliament buildings. He was evacuated and used a yr recovering, but was so fascinated by the situation experiencing the Sarajevans that he went back in 1993 to document existence through the bitter winter.

After that he was to visit routinely till the Dayton peace accord of 1995 was declared. The conclusion of hostilities meant that a final chapter remained to be photographed. Tom asked me if I would travel to Sarajevo with him as it would be a expense efficient way for both of us to deal with the tale. He purchased an previous Lada Niva (nicknamed “Trigger”) and that December we still left London for Dover, halting on the way to pick up some snow chains for the motor vehicle in advance of catching the Sealink ferry to Calais.

A few days afterwards we arrived in snow-protected Sarajevo. It was a harsh winter the roads have been frozen sheets of ice and each morning we had to dig the vehicle out of a snow drift. The weather was dreadful but the temper in the city was ecstatic. Peace experienced broken out and there was flexibility to roam with out anxiety. As the war finished, media fascination in the story tailed off and on this situation couple of of Tom’s pictures were being immediately published, but he experienced completed a body of get the job done that went on to be exhibited notably in 1997 at the Royal Competition Corridor, London, in a display titled Edge of Insanity – Sarajevo a City and Its People today Below Siege.

Women run across ‘Sniper Alley’ in Sarajevo, 1995.
Women of all ages run throughout ‘Sniper Alley’ in Sarajevo, 1995. Photograph: Tom Stoddart/Getty Photos

Wanting back again he was happy also when his perform at the French image competition Les Rencontres d’Arles in 1994 was picked out by a photographer he admired. The pioneer of photoreportage Henri Cartier-Bresson wrote to the curator praising the exhibition, anything Tom could not have imagined in 1970 when he started off out on the regional newspaper in his native north-east.

Tom was born in Morpeth, Northumberland, the son of Thomas Stoddart, an agricultural employee, and Kathleen (nee Turnbull). On leaving Seahouses secondary present day school, and wanting to go into journalism, he approached the Berwick Advertiser but was told there were being no vacancies other than apprentice photographer. He snapped up the likelihood.

In 1978 he moved to London, exactly where he freelanced for Time journal and the Sunday Situations. He produced a title for himself in Beirut in 1987, shooting an exceptional on the inhumane problems inside of the Palestinian camp of Burj al-Barajneh, the place the British medical professional Pauline Cutting was doing the job in a short term clinic.

Palestinian refugees, Burj al-Barajneh camp, Lebanon, 1989.
Palestinian refugees, Burj al-Barajneh camp, Lebanon, 1989. Photograph: Tom Stoddart Archive/Getty Pictures

Tom experienced the knack of recognizing a good tale extended right before other individuals and had the bravery to undertake unsafe assignments with pitfalls that other people would balk at. He was professionally formidable and canny, but also generous and charming, a trait he used in persuading people today to aid him achieve his targets, irrespective of whether speaking his way by way of an obstinate checkpoint or persuading a hesitant editor to buy his function.

By any benchmarks Tom created a prodigious amount of photojournalism, from the 1982 civil war in Lebanon to the collapse of the Berlin wall in 1989, the Romanian revolution, the Gulf war in 1991, Bosnia, the HIV/Aids epidemic in Africa, the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the exodus of refugees from Syria in 2015. Internationally recognised for his information protection, he was considerably less very well identified for his function with charities and NGOs these types of as Physicians Without the need of Borders, Christian Aid and Sightsavers, with whom he collaborated, utilizing his effective graphic-making expertise to boost their brings about.

He gained lots of accolades, like many Planet Press awards and the Larry Burrows award for fantastic war images, for his documentation of British Royal Marines in the course of the invasion of Iraq. He labored tirelessly, seamlessly shifting from 1 challenge to the promotion of the next. Not like quite a few photographers who develop into identified for a single piece of do the job, Tom experienced several to decide on from. His final project, Amazing Women (2020), is a selection of visuals reflecting on the power of women in situations of adversity. The deal with is graced by 1 of his favourite pictures, Meliha Varesanovic going for walks defiantly to operate during the siege of Sarajevo, an graphic that exemplifies Tom’s pictures.

He is survived by his spouse Ailsa, whom he married in 2015, and his sister, Alicia.

Tom Stoddart, photographer, born 28 November 1953 died 17 November 2021

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