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November 17, 2021updated 30 Sep 2022 10:46am

Photographer Tom Stoddart ‘who shone a light where there had been darkness’ dies aged 68

By Dominic Ponsford

Acclaimed photographer Tom Stoddart has died of cancer aged 68.

He began his career as a trainee on the Berwick Advertiser in 1970 before moving to London in 1978 to work for national newspapers and magazines.

During the 1980s Stoddart worked extensively for The Sunday Times and was in Beirut in 1982 when Israeli forces bombed Yasser Arafat’s besieged PLO base.

He was seriously injured in 1992 covering fighting in Bosnia, while in 1997 he was given access to Tony Blair’s historic general election campaign. Stoddart was in Berlin when the wall came down in 1989 and was on the Staten Island Ferry when the World Trade Centre was destroyed in 2001.

In 2019 he told the Evening Standard: “I have seen many awful things, but I have also seen a lot of fantastic and beautiful things.

“Humans do terrible things to each other, but there is also courage and humanity. That helps me keep it all in perspective…

“I’ve been very lucky in my career, with a ringside seat to history.”

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Colleagues from the world of photography have been among those to pay tribute to him today.

Richard Baker said: “I am heartbroken to hear that my friend, the photojournalist Tom Stoddart has passed away. I simply cannot accept that this most gentle, selfless, compassionate and funny man has left us. His legacy is a lifetime of photographs that have shocked us and changed ideas.”

David Levenson said on Twitter: “Deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the death of my dear old friend Tom Stoddart. One of the greatest photographers of his generation. A compassionate man who achieved so much, and gave so much help to others too.”

Former Sunday Times magazine editor Robin Morgan worked with Stoddart both as an editor and, in more recent years, via his agency Iconic Images.

He said: “Tom warned his friends weeks ago to expect the worst. He was such an inspiring man that he handled the crisis with the same grace and courage he handled the most dangerous assignments. He was as his amazing images evidence, dedicated, compassionate, and tenacious.

“We were so proud to give him the book he wanted as testimony to his life. ‘Extraordinary Women: images of  outrage endurance and defiance’. The title summed up our Tom.”

Tom Stoddart

Portrait of English photographer Tom Stoddart, a variety of cameras around his neck and shoulders, as he poses in front of the Berlin Wall, Berlin, West Germany, November 10, 1989. The photo was taken the day that the first section of the wall was dismantled. (Photo by Tom Stoddart/Getty Images)

The announcement of his death was made by his official Twitter account: “It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Tom after a brave fight against cancer. He felt blessed that he had found true happiness with Ailsa. The family kindly ask that their privacy be respected at this time.

“Tom touched the lives of so many as a brilliant, compassionate, courageous photographer whose legacy of work will continue to open the eyes for generations. He gave voice to those who did not have one and shone a light where there had been darkness.”

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