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Portraits – Martin Bell

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The journalist, author and former war correspondent Martin Bell photographed in London on the 15th June 2017.

I was fully aware of the incredible life that Martin Bell had lived prior to photographing him but it wasn’t until I got back home and reflected on my time with him that I realised what an extraordinarily courageous and admirable person I had been in the company of.

Martin Bell has been at the forefront of key historical events in the history of modern times bringing us reports from the frontline of conflict in Vietnam, Northern Ireland, El Salvador, Sarajevo (getting wounded in the process), Iraq and Afghanistan. He witnessed the destruction of The Old Bridge in Mostar, Bosnia (see attached picture from when i visited Mostar in 2014) and reported on the celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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This man was there, in the thick of it usually decked out in his white suit and flak jacket beaming these astonishing and quite terrifying stories into living rooms all around the world. We as a nation need to be incredibly grateful to this hugely courageous individual.

Whilst photographing Martin and chatting with him about the world he spoke to me in a way that was reassuring, with intelligence and humanity which is something that I feel is not only lacking within politics and leadership all across the world but is lacking on our streets and in our communities. In these very troubling times we need to be together more than ever, show respect to our fellow humans and help each other out. People could learn a great deal if they all just spent a few minutes in the company of Martin Bell.

Martin was just incredible to photograph. He was very patient, gentle, softly spoken, thoughtful and understanding of the photographic process. A lovely bloke. A few hours that I will never forget.

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‘The look of a person that has seen too much’ – Powerful words from the former war correspondent Martin Bell when I showed him the above shot.

Paul Crowther
16th June 2017