Talent 2010: The photographer, Tim Hetherington

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The Independent Culture

"Photography is dead in its traditional form," says Tim Hetherington. With the proliferation of digital culture, his view is that authenticity is now more important than style. "Many people can take pictures as good as mine but mine are more authentic because of my experience."

Liverpool-born Hetherington, who is 39, studied literature at Oxford and then spent three years writing and editing children's books before deciding to study photography. He has a new book coming out next autumn, Infidel (Chris Boot, £25), as well as a documentary film, Restrepo, made with the journalist Sebastian Junger, which will be shown at the Sundance Festival next month. Both are based on the five months he spent with a platoon of American soldiers in Afghanistan. Restrepo is an outpost in the Korengal Valley where the platoon is based and it was named after a US medic who was killed there.

Shooting both still and moving images, Hetherington has created an intimate picture of a group of young men in a terrible situation. "I was more interested in the nuances of male bonding than the usual heroic images of war." Part of the work is a series of photographs of the soldiers simply asleep which shows the vulnerability of those who we send to fight our wars. Though he previously spent many years covering the Liberian civil war, he refuses to be called a war photographer. "I don't want to be defined by the myth of the 'war photographer'."