Reading about the deaths of two photographers covering the Libyan civil war, one of the names rang familiar. It did not take long before I realized this was because I had typed it several times. Chris Hondros worked for Getty Images, of which Tablet Magazine is a subscriber, and his photographs appeared in these digital pages more than a dozen times. He helped us cover the planned Islamic center near Ground Zero and the attendant controversy; Mayor Michael Bloomberg being, well, Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Chabadniks praying in Brooklyn; the Mezvinsky-Clinton nuptials (!); extremists protesting President Obama; and, most dramatically, Egyptians taking to Tahrir Square to unseat President Hosni Mubarak.
You can trace his movements through his photographs, an unintended yet vivid diary (to learn more about him, his love of chess and classical music, and to see some exemplary photographs, go here). He documented much of the past decade’s American history, including John Kerry’s presidential campaign, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was in Israel and Lebanon in the summer of 2006, following the war.
An Israeli infantryman returning from Lebanon, August 2006.
As an auteur, however, his obession was clearly New York City, where he photographed, in 2004, the Republican National Convention; in 2005, the mass transit strike; in 2008, the Atlantic Yards construction project and the Chabad-Lubavitch community following the Mumbai attack; in 2009, the installation of Cardinal Dolan as archbishop; in 2010, Rep. Charlie Rangel’s birthday party; and much, much, much else besides.
A Chabad-Lubavitcher and NYPD after the Mumbai attack, November 2008.
He was in New York for last year’s lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. He spent February in Egypt. By last month, however, he was back to document the building of the World Trade Center memorial and the U.N. condemnation of Gadhafi. His first photographs from Libya were published fewer than two weeks ago.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting, November 2010.
If a single obsession can be discerned, it was the legacy of 9/11, whether commemorations of the event itself or the building of the Ground Zero memorial or, of course, the controversy concerning what was to be built two blocks away. Hondros (whose Website says he was born “to immigrant Greek and German parents, both survivors of World War II,” and who was reportedly engaged to be married) was not a traditional Tablet contributor: I doubt he knew who we are. But he was a contributor, providing visceral illustrations of some of the events that have provoked our magazine and our magazine’s readers the most. So it feels unusually sad that he is gone. May his memory be for a blessing.
From the top of the nascent site at the World Trade Center, March 2011.
‘Restrepo’ Director and a Photographer Killed in Libya [NYT]
In Memoriam, Chris Hondros [Foreign Policy]
Parting Glance: Chris Hondros [Lens]
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.