Photographer Tom Stoddart who captured fall of the Berlin Wall and the Balkans war dies at 68


One of the world’s most highly acclaimed photojournalists Tom Stoddart has died at the age of 68, his family has announced.

Stoddart spent over four decades as one of Fleet Street’s finest photographers, capturing haunting scenes of war and famine around the world, as well as taking iconic images of Royal weddings and Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and David Cameron.

His photographs of human catastrophes in Beirut and Sarajevo helped shape the government’s response and cast a lasting public impression over the two controversial and highly politicised conflicts. 

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.’

Acclaimed photojournalist Tom Stoddart, 68, (pictured here in 2014) has died at the age of 68 – his family has announced

Among Stoddart's iconic images was this impromptu shot of Lady Diana Spencer, who was startled after stalling her red Mini Metro outside her Earls Court flat in 1980 just days before her engagement to Prince Charles was announced officially

Among Stoddart’s iconic images was this impromptu shot of Lady Diana Spencer, who was startled after stalling her red Mini Metro outside her Earls Court flat in 1980 just days before her engagement to Prince Charles was announced officially

Stoddart was one of the first on scene of the Lockerbie bombing wreckage in Scotland (pictured) in 1988. The Pan-Am 747 plane was blown up by Libyan terrorists when it was en route to JFK airport in New York, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew

Stoddart was one of the first on scene of the Lockerbie bombing wreckage in Scotland (pictured) in 1988. The Pan-Am 747 plane was blown up by Libyan terrorists when it was en route to JFK airport in New York, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew

His work in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War in the 1990s was some of his most iconic and celebrated work, recognised for capturing the human impact of the war. Pictured: a woman hurries past graffiti in an area known as 'Sniper Alley' in 1992

His work in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War in the 1990s was some of his most iconic and celebrated work, recognised for capturing the human impact of the war. Pictured: a woman hurries past graffiti in an area known as ‘Sniper Alley’ in 1992

Tom's family said he was known for giving a voice to those who did not have one and shone light where there was darkness. Pictured: a mother guiding her children through a line of Slovenian police at the Timovec border crossing with Croatia in 2015

Tom’s family said he was known for giving a voice to those who did not have one and shone light where there was darkness. Pictured: a mother guiding her children through a line of Slovenian police at the Timovec border crossing with Croatia in 2015

In a statement shared today, his family said: ‘It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Tom after a brave fight with 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 generation. 

‘He gave voice to those who did not have one and shone a light where there had been darkness.’ 

Stoddart has been on the front line of momentous and historic occasions throughout history, picturing the demolition of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the aids crisis in sub-Saharan Africa and the Bosnian War. As fate would have it, he was on a Staten Island Ferry during the World Trade Center terror attacks in 2001.

He was in Beirut in 1982 when Israeli forces bombed Yasser Arafat’s besieged PLO base and was seriously injured while covering the siege of Sarajevo in 1992 when he was hit by Serbian artillery.

Born in Morpeth, Northumberland, in 1953, Stoddart began his career with the Berwick Advertiser and moved to Fleet Street in 1978.

He grew to become one of the most accomplished photographers among the national news circuit, one of the first to picture Lady Diana Spencer in 1980 as rumours abounded of her upcoming engagement to Prince Charles.

He went on to picture Margaret Thatcher during the early years of her premiership, alongside The Queen and her friend and close ally US President Ronald Reagan.

Stoddart was among the first at the scene of the Lockerbie disaster in 1988 and he later captured the plight of family members desperately seeking information about their loved ones.

His career reached new heights the following year as he photographed the fall of the Berlin Wall, locking many images in time as east Germans celebrated their newfound freedom.

Female US marines training in South Carolina in 1998.  Each year, thousands of young American women don military fatigues and an M-16 rifle, in a bid to join the ranks of the US Marine Corp by enduring the 12 weeks of rigorous boot camp training

Female US marines training in South Carolina in 1998.  Each year, thousands of young American women don military fatigues and an M-16 rifle, in a bid to join the ranks of the US Marine Corp by enduring the 12 weeks of rigorous boot camp training

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher alongside her friend and ally US President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy in 1989

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher alongside her friend and ally US President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy in 1989

Melita Olmingani, 20, a young Maasai warrior with his herd of goats, in Ngorongoro, Tanzania, snapped by Stoddart in 2004

Melita Olmingani, 20, a young Maasai warrior with his herd of goats, in Ngorongoro, Tanzania, snapped by Stoddart in 2004

Glenys Kinnock (centre), wife of then-Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock, demonstrates against the deployment of nuclear cruise missiles at RAF Greenham Common near Newbury, Berkshire, which was photographed by Stoddart in December 1983

Glenys Kinnock (centre), wife of then-Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock, demonstrates against the deployment of nuclear cruise missiles at RAF Greenham Common near Newbury, Berkshire, which was photographed by Stoddart in December 1983

Fire crews and policemen work to free the dead and rescue the injured from derailed carriages after a rail crash near Clapham Junction in London, which saw 35 people killed and over 100 people injured, pictured by Tom Stoddart in December 1988

Fire crews and policemen work to free the dead and rescue the injured from derailed carriages after a rail crash near Clapham Junction in London, which saw 35 people killed and over 100 people injured, pictured by Tom Stoddart in December 1988

Pictured: Kurdish refugee children at a camp in the mountains near Isikveren, in south-eastern Turkey, snapped in April 1991

Pictured: Kurdish refugee children at a camp in the mountains near Isikveren, in south-eastern Turkey, snapped in April 1991

Elephant conservationist Daphne Sheldrick plays with an orphaned elephant at her sanctuary near Nairobi, Kenya, in 1989

Elephant conservationist Daphne Sheldrick plays with an orphaned elephant at her sanctuary near Nairobi, Kenya, in 1989

Royal visit: Tom Stoddart was responsible for this snap of Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to Nepal in February 1986

Royal visit: Tom Stoddart was responsible for this snap of Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to Nepal in February 1986

Pictured: A man gives thanks to Allah after landing on the Greek Island of Lesbos in a crowded rubber dinghy in 2015

Pictured: A man gives thanks to Allah after landing on the Greek Island of Lesbos in a crowded rubber dinghy in 2015

Stoddart's work 'gave voice to those who did not have one and shone a light where there had been darkness,' his family said

Stoddart’s work ‘gave voice to those who did not have one and shone a light where there had been darkness,’ his family said

Stoddart’s coverage of the Bosnian conflict included some of his most tragic and celebrated works. 

His image of ‘Sarajevo woman’ Meliha Vareshanovic in 1994 walking defiantly in front of gun-toting Serbian soldiers while wearing pearls, high heels and clutching her handbag was among his most iconic photographs and a favourite of actress and United Nations envoy Angelina Jolie.

The image was featured as part of an open air exhibition set up to run during the London Olympic Games in 2012. In total, more than 70 of his most iconic images were included in the display created with the participation of the International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC, to highlight their Health Care in Danger campaign.

Stoddart said: ‘The world’s nations are joined together in a wonderful sporting festival whose motto is “swifter, higher, stronger”.

‘I hope that people visiting the exhibition will leave with a greater determination to understand and help those with little access to clean water, food and medicines who, through no fault of their own, cannot run more swiftly, jump higher or be stronger.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk