16 October 1983 – 22 February 2012
Over the past week, many words have been attributed to Rémi Ochlik, the French photographer who died in a Syrian bombing. Perfectionist. Cool-headed guy. Hero. But Bruno Stevens, one of Rémi’s colleagues prefers the word ‘Herald’:
‘I use the word in the etymological and historical sense of “herald”: a man of great value in charge of conveying the most important messages of his time’
And that he did. Ochlik was truly a Man of Action, and sought out modern front lines to capture the attrocities and injustices that take place beyond our television screens. If his associate Marie Colvin gave the innocent a voice, Ochlik fought to give them a face. This face changed many times over his career, from rioting in Haiti to protesting in Libya, but the message remained constant: the struggle of the oppressed.
Rémi’s commitment won him critical acclaim at this year’s World Press Photo contest. His ‘Battle for Libya’ collection of photographs won the first prize in the General News category.
But there was no time for celebration and congratulations. This only spurred Rémi on to work harder and be better.
His friend at Paris Match remembers:
‘He never celebrated. He left a few hours afterwards [for Syria]… he wasn’t the kind of guy who would gloat for winning a prize. it was the kind of this that made him work harder’
Tragically, Rémi won’t see the World Press awards ceremony in April, but we’re sure he will be remembered and celebrated. Rémi was truly one of the most talented photojournalists around. Jean-François Leroy, the head of the major international photojournalism festival Visa Pour L’lmage remembers the exciting potential Rémi showed from the outset.
‘Someone showed me this work on the events in Haiti. I was very beautiful, very strong. I didn’t know the guy who’d done it. I asked him to come in. He’s called Rémi Ochlik, he’s 20. He worked alone, like a big guy. There you go. Photojournalism is not dead’
|An example of Remi’s early work in Haiti|
He invigorated the industry, breaking new frontiers and exposing brutally real images. But this fire will not burn out, as Bruno Stevens concludes his tribute:
‘Marie [Colvin] and Rémi are not dead: under each of her words, behind each of his photographs, their pure hearts are beating strongly for a better future’