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Europe, through the lens of Tom Stoddart

The gifted photographer died last week. His images, however, live on and continue to change the way people think.

A 12-year-old boy plays on a uranium waste site at Crossen, near Zwickau, in 1991. All photos: Tom Stoddart Archive/Getty Images.

“Art affects us. Images can be burned into our minds and change the way we think. They can help us remember history, or empathise with people across the world we have never met.” These are the words of the actor and activist Angelina Jolie, from the introduction to a book of photographs published last year. The book was Extraordinary Women by Tom Stoddart, who died last week, aged 68.

Whether he was with striking miners in a field at Orgreave, in a battle in Beirut, on the campaign trail with Tony Blair or alongside flood victims on the banks of the Mississippi in St Louis, Stoddart’s photography always captured the empathy Jolie wrote about. It sang with the defiance of the human spirit, encapsulating the gift of being alive in exceptional (and sometimes mundane) times.

The award-winning photojournalist did some of his finest work in Europe. His images of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the siege of Sarajevo – where he was seriously injured by Serbian artillery fire – won him worldwide acclaim, and he was still producing remarkable work of great sympathy and sensitivity in his later years. Here we feature a selection of images from across Europe that say much about a man who cared deeply about his subjects.

Jolie met Stoddart through her humanitarian work in refugee camps. “His images have been burned into my mind and the minds and memories of many others,” she wrote, remembering the pleasure of watching a master of his craft at work: “Leaning in. Working and fighting to get the best shot. Never settling. Searching.”

Refugees in Kukes, Albania, surround a food distribution truck, April 1999.
German neo-Nazis at a rally in Cottbus in May 1991, just seven months after the country’s reunification.
A Hungarian family watch porn shown on Saturday night TV, in Budapest, 1990.
A woman floats at sunset in an Oslo lake, 2000.
A group of Albanian children laughing at a construction site, 1991.
A child standing amongst discarded blankets and debris at the border crossing between Serbia and Croatia, October 2015.

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