When Anton Hammerl’s family hold a memorial service for him in London on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, he will not be forgotten by fellow photographers and journalists the world over.
Some of the most renowned names in the world of photography have rallied together to donate images exclusively for sale on website – www.friendsofanton.org – to raise funds for Hammerl’s three children, 11-year-old Aurora, seven-year-old Neo, and 6-month-old baby Hiro. Hammerl was killed while covering the war in Libya in April 2011.
Money raised will be used for the children’s future education and is the fraternity’s way of remembering the life of a vibrant and talented fallen colleague. Non-profit organisation Reporters Without Borders is sponsoring the online benefit and handling all donations.
The launch of the website (yesterday) coincides with five months to the day that Hammerl was gunned down in Libya. It is also a few days before his family holds a memorial service in London to bid farewell to their son, husband and brother.
Part of the team who have helped steer the fundraising website are the three colleagues who were with Hammerl when he was killed – photojournalist Manu Brabo, and journalists Clare Morgana Gillis and James Foley. The three were arrested immediately after Hammerl was shot and were unlawfully detained for six weeks before being freed.
“When Anton was with us he spoke with such deep love for his children. We feel unable to rest without being able to try and help his children in some way,” says Foley, who together with Brabo, has returned to Libya to cover the end of the fighting. Adds Brabo, “What happened to Anton was horrific. I feel compelled to help his family in any way that I can.”
The photos, generously contributed, represent a diverse mix of stunning photography from around the world and are available to collectors for a limited time.
Amongst the photographers contributing are David Burnett, Kenneth Jarecke, João Silva, Bruno Stevens, Q. Sakamaki, Greg Marinovich, Andrew Testa, João Pina, Matt Black, Teun Voeten, Teru Kuwayama, Leonie Marinovich and Jody MacDonald. Many more high profile photographers will be added in the coming days.
“We’re hoping to get people from all over the world to purchase these amazing prints. It will be like a central gallery showcasing some of the finest photography in the world. The ‘gift’ of the prints from these wonderful photographers is truly a way of honouring Anton by his colleagues in the field,” adds Clare Morgana Gillis, who will be travelling to London to pay tribute to Hammerl at the memorial service on September 8, 2011.
Hammerl, a former photo editor and chief photographer for The Saturday Star in Johannesburg, was living in London with his wife, Penny, and two of his children when he went as a freelancer to Libya for a two-week stint to cover the conflict. As a freelancer he was not supported in any way by any media organisation.
For six weeks, his family and the world were led to believe Hammerl was being detained by the Gadaffi regime and that he was alive, when all along it had been covered up that he had been shot and killed on April 5, 2011.
For those six weeks his family led an impassioned campaign to get to the truth about what had happened to Hammerl. They organised yellow ribbon campaigns, global vigils and online and media efforts that garnered over 35,000 petition signatures to try to get access to Hammerl.
But they were only to learn of his true fate when Gillis, Foley and Brabo were finally released from captivity and safely crossed the border out of Libya. It was six weeks after he had gone missing.
“The global outpouring of sympathy and concern for Hammerl’s family, wife, and children has been felt over the months,” says friendsofanton.org volunteer organiser and New York City-based freelance video journalist/ activist, Colleen Delaney.
“Many people wanted to contribute to the future of Anton’s children. There has been so much good will and the photo and journalism communities wanted to help.”
Photographer David Brabyn, another member of the volunteer team who was instrumental in organising the online benefit, says, “Everyone has worked tirelessly to get this project on the road – from the talented photographers who are donating their works, right down to web-based companies such as Emphas.is and PhotoShelter, who advised us, donated the account and waived transaction fees.”
Friendsofanton.org would not be possible without the generous support, advice and donations of services from PhotoShelter, Emphas.is, The Steven Vincent Foundation, digitaltechparis.com, Human Rights Watch, Committee to Protect Journalists, and Reporters Without Borders.
Hammerl’s remains have not yet been located and returned to his family.