Tim Page is best known for his war photography, particularly the work he did during the Vietnam War conflict in the 1960s. He’s a British-born photographer now living in Australia having retired from war photography.
One of the facts I like about him the most is that the character played by Dennis Hopper in the film Apocalypse Now was based on him. The character is a wartime photographer who seems a little crazy and loves to get high. Page isn’t shy about the fact he spent an awful lot of time as a young man high as a kite. It was his “craving for danger and excitement” that made Page push his commitment to get photos that no other photographer dared take and is what made him so renowned.
It was this pushing of boundaries which got Page injured four times during the war. The last time he got injured was when he jumped out of a helicopter in order to help load injured soldiers into it. The person who’d jumped out just in front of him stepped on a landmine that exploded and took Page with it. Page was pronounced dead at the hospital but actually survived. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the things he has witnessed during his time as a war photographer, getting into the thick of the action, has caused him to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder to go along with the physical injuries he’s suffered at differing points of his career.
The gallery above is just a very small sample of Page’s work during the Vietnam War conflict, which I’ve taken from his website.
I particularly like the image I’ve used as the header image for this post, the marine who is sheltering under the pink umbrella with the word ‘ Hippie’ on his helmet. Not only is this a nicely done image with the added colour of the umbrella to contrast the drab green of the military uniform and vehicle he’s sitting atop, but it also says quite a bit about the subject and where he is and when it was.
The ’60s were very much a hippy period of time and not all the soldiers fighting in the conflict agreed with it and why they were there. The whole hippy thing was about peace and love and getting high but this guy chose to be a soldier and so had to do a job. The fact that he felt comfortable holding a pink umbrella adds to his probable disdain for the job he was having to do. It could be seen as a demonstration against the controversial war he found himself fighting.
The other images so just how close Page got to the action and also show just how brutal war is. He has managed to capture plenty of emotion in his images as well as showing just some of the death and destruction and ruined lives that result.
To me, Tim Page is a truly extraordinary man who went above and beyond to bring the realities of war to the people of the west who will have been unaware and very much detached from it in the safety of their more civilised and safe western homes.