Picture credit: Copyright Matt Stuart

London, 4.24pm. The photographic world has paid tribute to photojournalist Tim Hetherington (pictured) who was killed in Libya along with US photographer Chris Hondros. Another UK photographer, Guy Martin, remains in a serious condition in hospital.

The photographers are reported to have died when a mortar round landed on a group of journalists who were documenting attempts by Gaddafi forces to retake Tripoli Street in Misrata.

Hetherington, 40, died despite frantic attempts by hospital doctors to save him.

London-based photographer Matt Stuart, who has known Tim since 1997, was still reeling from the news when he spoke to Amateur Photographer (AP) earlier today.

?I knew him really well. We were really good mates,’ said Matt who took portraits of Tim for publication by the world?s media.

?We went on a photography course run by [Magnum Photos photographer] Leonard Freed? and have been really good friends ever since. It?s incredibly sad,? he told AP.

Matt said Tim was prepared to take such high risks as a photographer on the frontline because he cared about people.

?He wasn?t a high-octane adrenaline junkie… He was very modest, always interested in you and always made you feel you were saying something important.?

Matt was alerted to the news of Tim?s death by US TV station CBS which wanted him to supply a portrait of Tim for a story it was putting together yesterday.

At that time Matt didn?t know his friend had died. It was only when CBS sent Matt an email thanking him for the photo that the reason they wanted it became clear.

Matt said the news is more tragic given that Tim was thinking of ?calling it a day? on the frontline and settling down to start a family.

Hetherington featureAmateur Photographer (AP) interviewed Tim Hetherington for a feature article in 2008. The photographer is a former winner of AP’s Power of Photography Award.

Paying tribute, a spokesman for Hetherington?s agency Panos Pictures said: ?Tim will be dearly missed as an irreplaceable friend and contributor to our agency since the earliest days.

?He combined a fierce intelligence with a deeply creative approach to photography and filmmaking that marked him apart from his peers.

?He knew what path he wanted to follow, his work was direct and purposeful and stood as an example to many of his protégés.

?We are still trying to come to terms with how someone so full of life could be stopped so cruelly in his tracks. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.?

Among those expressing their shock at the news was former Amateur Photographer (AP) features writer Jeff Meyer.

Jeff interviewed the photographer shortly after he had won the World Press Photo prize three years ago.

?The guy exuded integrity and you couldn?t help but respect him immensely,’ said Jeff who had interviewed Tim by phone for two hours.

Just a week before the tragedy Jeff said he emailed Tim, asking if he would be able to judge a photography competition. But Tim replied saying he would be busy at work and wouldn’t be able to make it.

‘He didn’t want to see himself as a war photographer. He was drawn to hotspots but he had no particular taste for violence at all,’ added Jeff.

‘He was critical of his own work and incredibly honest. And he had an energy about him that few others have.’

The photographer went on to win AP’s Power of Photography Award.

In today?s Times, friend and fellow photographer Jack Hill writes that both Tim and Chris ?let their cameras do the talking and they have been inspirational for many of us in this profession’.

Hill, who first met Hetherington eleven years ago, described him as ?self-effacing and modest?. He stressed that Hetherington not only reported from war zones but covered issues including landmine injuries and blind children.

?I remember Tim being one of the early innovators in matching pictures with sound, making audio slideshows ? which are obligatory on most newspaper websites these days.

?This was typical of Tim, being experimental and at the forefront of technology, as well as battle lines.?

In a statement Tim?s family said he was in Libya to ?continue his ongoing multimedia project to highlight humanitarian issues during war and conflict’.

Close friend James Brabazon, also a journalist and filmmaker told the BBC?s Newsnight: ?He was a leading light of his generation who changed our perception of very important world events.?

In the wake of his death, Brabazon said his friend would have wanted the media to focus on the ?humanitarian tragedy? of events in Libya.

Though a ?passionate story teller? he was ?fundamentally a humanitarian?, Brabazon told presenter Emily Maitlis.

In a statement National Geographic magazine said its staff were ?devastated? by the news.

?We join the community of dedicated photojournalists and documentarians around the world who are mourning his loss.?

Hetherington feature