NPR Photographer Killed In Afghanistan Got His Start In Boulder

Updated 8:50 a.m. -- David Gilkey, the NPR photographer killed Sunday during a Taliban attack in Afghanistan, got his start with the Boulder Daily Camera.

Gilkey, 50, and local translator Zabihullah Tamanna, 38, were traveling with an Afghan army unit when the attack took place. They were on assignment with Pentagon reporter Tom Bowman and producer Monika Evstatieva, neither of whom were hurt, NPR reported.

Photo: Gilkey (AP)
Translator Zabihullah Tamanna, left, and photojournalist David Gilkey were killed while on assignment for NPR in southern Afghanistan.

According to The New York Times, Gilkey is the first civilian American photojournalist to have been killed in Afghanistan. James P. Hunter, a staff sergeant and journalist with the 101st Airborne Division, was killed there in 2010 by an IED.

The Committee To Protect Journalists reports that prior to Gilkey's and Tamanna's deaths, "24 journalists and one media worker" have been killed in Afghanistan since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Most of them were international journalists. Of those, four were photographers. 

NPR’s Eyder Peralta wrote on Sunday that the end of Apartheid in South Africa, the Gaza conflict, famine in Somalia, the earthquake in Haiti and the Ebola epidemic in Liberia were among the stories Gilkey covered. During his career he won many of the top prizes in photojournalism for his efforts.

"David has been covering war and conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. He was devoted to helping the public see these wars and the people caught up in them. He died pursuing that commitment," said Michael Oreskes, NPR's Senior Vice President of News and Editorial Director. "As a man and as a photojournalist, David brought out the humanity of all those around him. He let us see the world and each other through his eyes."

While he was at the Camera in Colorado, Gilkey also covered overseas assignments for Knight Ridder. From Boulder he went to the Detroit Free Press, and then joined NPR in 2007.

Cliff Grassmick, a photographer with the Daily Camera, recalled for the paper today that he met Gilkey in the 1980s when Gilkey was an intern, and called him "a photojournalist Indiana Jones. He never wanted to settle down," and "extremely gifted.

Steve Knopper, a Rolling Stone contributor who also worked at the Camera in the '90s, told the paper, "When I worked with him, all I had to do was just shut up and do what he said and try to learn what he did."

For NPR, Gilkey also covered the challenges faced by U.S. troops returning from war. As part of that coverage he produced a video for CPR News about a Colorado program that serves veterans: