Fearless Vietnam war photographer dead
Tim Page, one of the pre-eminent photographers of the Vietnam War, known as much for his larger than-life personality as for his intense and powerful combat photographs, died on Wednesday at his home in New South Wales, Australia.
He was 78. His death, of liver cancer, was confirmed by his longtime partner, Marianne Harris.
A freelancer and a free spirit whose Vietnam pictures appeared in publications around the world during the 1960s, he was seriously wounded four times, most severely when a piece of shrapnel took a chunk out of his brain and sent him into months of recovery and rehabilitation.
Page was one of the most vivid personalities among a corps of Vietnam photographers — and was a model for the crazed, stoned photographer played by Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now. Michael Herr, in his 1977 book Dispatches, called him the most extravagant of the “wigged-out crazies” in Vietnam, who “liked to augment his field gear with freak paraphernalia, scarves and beads”.
When a publisher asked him if he would write a book that took the glamour out of war, Herr writes, Page exclaimed, “Take the glamour out of war! I mean, how the bloody hell can you do that?” He went on: “It’s like trying to take the glamour out of sex, trying to take the glamour out of the Rolling Stones. I mean, you know that it can’t be done.”
In a 2016 essay in The Guardian newspaper, he described his “band of brothers” as “a hard core of photographers, writers and a few TV folks that were regulars in the field who understood the fear and the horror, yet who could still groove on its edge”.
In The Vietnam War: An Eyewitness History, Sanford Wexler writes: “Page was known as a photographer who would go anywhere, fly in anything, snap the shutter under any conditions, and when hit goes at it again in bandages.”
In his later years, Page was as thoughtful as he had been flamboyant and as articulate about the personal costs of war as he had been about its thrills.
“I don’t think anybody who goes through anything like war ever comes out intact,” he said in an interview with The New York Times.
He published a dozen books, including two memoirs, and most notably Requiem a collection of pictures by photographers on all sides who had been killed in the various Indochina wars.
New York Times News Service