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It is not very often that I am left speechless, unable to think or commit words to paper, but as I sit here looking at a blank computer screen I find that this is one of those times.
How to I put down in mere words the feelings that are welling up inside me after hearing the news that my friend and colleague Anton Hammerl will not be returning from home from Libya to his wife and children?As photojournalist we all understand the risk that we take when we decide to go into these types of situations and the decision is never an easy one. But there is something inside us that makes us do it. Call it a sense of truth if you will, but it is a driving force that cannot be ignored.
I know that this is why Anton went to Libya, because he was the kind of person that felt that there were injustices there and it was his duty to let the world know about them through his pictures.
Even though I have only know Anton since 2003 and only worked with him a few times, his reputation preceded him. He was a fantastic photographer with a beautiful eye; his ability to capture a situation and tell the story in a single image was his greatest gift.
Shortly before I left to cover the conflict in Libya I was chatting to Anton via Facebook and we were making plans to meet up while we were there and work together again. Because of the rapidly changing situation in Libya at the time this never happened and I left the country without seeing him. When I arrived back in South Africa I received a message from him, “I am in Benghazi, are you still around?” it read. This was the last time that I heard from him.
The South African photographic community has lost a great photographer and he will be missed by all of us.
Hamba Kahle Anton, until we meet again.