I was going back through some old documents the other day and came across an interview I did about 6 years ago with Vietnam war photographer Tim Page. It was such an honor to have had the chance to talk with Mr. Page, and apart from being one of my favorite photographers he is also a fascinating man. I don’t know if the story I put together works so well, but either way I have reprinted it below for anyone who might be interested.
Revisiting a Page of the Vietnam War
By ROBERT GILHOOLY
BRISBANE, Australia – A glance around Tim Page’s central Brisbane apartment reveals nothing about his messy, near-calamitous past. On the living room shelves, smoldering incense sticks marshal a neatly arranged congregation of Buddhist statues. Photographs that line the walls – many his own creations – hang impeccably straight. The coffee table and other surfaces are uncluttered, not a discarded cup or plate in sight. Even the ashtray is butt-free.
“Tim doesn’t like things to be messy,” whispers his partner, Marianne, as she wipes down the table. “He’s fussy about that.”
Page’s manner is equally impeccable, a British gentleman with a deep, meandering voice that would seem most suitably applied to poetry reading or Sunday afternoon cricket commentary on the radio. “Would you like a cup of tea?” he calls musically from the kitchen.
It’s only then that hints of what he has been through start to emerge. Page carries in the tea, his progress hindered slightly by a pronounced limp. A Leica M6 camera – the photographer’s Porsche – is almost permanently slung around his neck. Later he shows off a recent acquisition, an aging utility truck, which he has furnished with a couple of stickers. One reads “No War,” the other “Vietnam: Been There, Done That.”
Indeed, Page has well and truly “done” Vietnam. During the war in Indochina, he earned a reputation, even among the most daring of photojournalists, for his suicidal forays into far-flung and treacherous battle zones, adventures that provided the world with some of the most stirring images of the 16-year conflict.
They also resulted in several near-fatal injuries, the last of which required the removal of a fist-size chunk of his brain after a land mine blew shrapnel into his head. He was left paralyzed down one side of his body, a condition from which doctors believed he would never recover.