Anja Niedringhaus (1965 - 2014)
Frankfurt am Main, 14 April 2014
In a foreword for one of her many exhibitions it was written 'we know her photographs even if we don't know her.' The first part of that was true but there cannot be many who are not familiar with her name now.
Anja and photography were a perfect match for each other – like a marriage made in heaven.
Her brutal killing on assignment in Afghanistan on 4 April 2014 has left so many of us with a deep sense of loss but we are lifted by the knowledge that she left us the greatest unimaginable legacy – her images from 1990 to 2002. So many of these pictures adorned covers of magazines and newspapers worldwide. Post-epa she achieved even more success.
Her story with epa – then a fledgling 5 year old agency – began at the beginning of 1990, the very first of epa's photographer signings. Just a few months earlier she had a taste of hard news coverage when her local newspaper sent her to cover the fall of the Berlin Wall. Little did Anja realise then that the dismantling of the so called Iron Curtain would pave the way for assignments that would dominate her work for the next ten years. During this time she was solely responsible for not only the hand-picked hiring of our photo correspondents in eastern Europe but in shaping and moulding the quality of our coverages as well as making a huge contribution in transforming epa into what and where we are today.
Although famed for seeking out conflict situations, there was one other annual job that was a 'must do' for her. And that was the diametrically opposite challenge of the All England Tennis Championships at Wimbledon. Swapping the sound of gunfire for strawberries. We don't think she missed one since 1997. However over-exuberance once got the better of her on Centre Court during the trophy presentation to the winner of the ladies singles.The ever-competitive girl from Hoexter was clearly not happy with her view or position so she grabbed a nearby chair for a more elevated advantage point. Spotted by the official in charge of photographers she was given a red card and missed the next day's men's final. Wimbledon can sometimes be tougher than the theatre of war.
And long time colleague and friend Fehim Demir recalls: 'I remembered 8 March 1994. Few roses could be found at the Sarajevo market and I bought one for her. I told her: 'Happy Women's Day, this rose is for you.' But she replied briskly: 'I want pictures, not flowers.' I said I had pictures, too, and she said: 'OK, thanks for the pictures then.'
Everyone will have their very own special memories of times with Anja – but one thing will always link them all together – her infectious, trademark laughter.
During her career she was rewarded with a number of solo exhibitions, she received The International Women's Media Foundation's Courage in Journalism award, Pictures of the Year International, Best of Photo Journalism tribute and topping them all was being the only woman in a team of eleven photo journalists from AP who won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Iraq War.