His wife, Ailsa, reported his death on his Twitter account. The cause was cancer.
Deeply admired by his fellow photojournalists, Mr. Stoddart usually stuck to black-and-white images during a four-decade career in which he was a freelancer contributing to the Times and Sunday Times of London, Time and Newsweek magazines, wire services and other publications around the world. He often quoted Canadian photographer Ted Grant as saying: “If you photograph in color, you see the color of their clothes, but if you photograph in black and white, you see the color of their soul.”
Through his lens, he portrayed the fury of war, the anguish of AIDS patients, the hopefulness of suffering children and the silent shock of New Yorkers looking from the Staten Island ferry at the smoking void where the twin towers had just collapsed.
In the 1990s, Mr. Stoddart covered the Serbian siege of Sarajevo, where he was badly wounded by an artillery shell. He captured Lebanon’s ongoing conflicts in the 1980s and was one of the first on the scene of the Lockerbie disaster when Pan Am Flight 103, bound for Detroit, crashed into the Scottish village just before Christmas in 1988, killing 259 on board and 11 people on the ground.
But he focused on more than tragedy. Mr. Stoddart produced memorable photos of British prime ministers Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron and Tony Blair, and took one of the most iconic images of Lady Diana Spencer before her engagement to Prince Charles. The 19-year-old Diana had just stalled her subcompact car outside her flat in London when Mr. Stoddart caught her looking startled.
In August 1989, after returning to London from Berlin, he followed his “gut instinct” and went straight back to Berlin, despite his editors’ indifference. He paid his own way and walked into one of the biggest stories of the century: the fall of the Berlin Wall, which led to the breakup of the Soviet Union. He captured West Berliners hauling their East German compatriots up and over the wall that had kept them trapped by a communist regime for 28 years, in the first dramatic steps toward Germany’s reunification.
With a low-key presence, Mr. Stoddart was often able to photograph people before they were aware of him. Perhaps his most famous photo, taken in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 1994, shows a chic woman in a long dress, black stockings, high heels, pearls and immaculate makeup, proudly holding her head high while walking past a wall of sandbags and an armed Bosnian soldier. She was defiantly going to work while Serbian forces across the river were pounding the city with artillery and sniper fire.
It became the cover of Mr. Stoddart’s 2020 book “Extraordinary Women,” with a foreword by actress and director Angelina Jolie, who met Mr. Stoddart while filming in Sarajevo and hired him to photograph some of her humanitarian projects around the world.
“All through my career, there are so many times that you notice whenever there’s a problem — whether it’s a famine, HIV/AIDS or an earthquake — it’s always the women who turn and face the situation,” Mr. Stoddart told Digital Camera magazine earlier this year. “They feed their families first, and feed themselves last.”
Soon after taking the photo of the Sarajevo woman, who he later learned was Meliha Varesanovic, Mr. Stoddart was sent flying over a wall outside the Bosnian parliament by the nearby explosion of a Serbian shell. He was evacuated to London, but the explosion left him with one leg shorter than the other and a titanium plate in his shoulder. He was back on the front lines within a year.
Unlike many “shooters” (better known in Britain as “snappers”), Mr. Stoddart was careful under fire, calculating the odds and exit routes while sprinting across “Sniper Alley” in Sarajevo or driving to the airport. He carried a card indicating his blood type.
In 1981, Mr. Stoddart’s photos of baby seals being culled on orders of the Canadian government appeared around the world, to the horror of many. He shot the images from the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior, which was trying to stop the killings.
During the 1980s, Mr. Stoddart covered the fighting in Lebanon alongside Sunday Times war correspondent Marie Colvin, who lost an eye while covering the Sri Lankan civil war in 2001 and was killed by Syrian army fire in the city of Homs in 2012. She helped Mr. Stoddart smuggle his rolls of film out of Beirut by stuffing them in her bra and underwear.
“I have seen many awful things, but I have also seen a lot of fantastic and beautiful things,” he said in a 2019 interview with London’s Evening Standard. “Humans do terrible things to each other, but there is also courage and humanity. That helps me keep it all in perspective … I’ve been very lucky in my career, with a ringside seat to history.”
Thomas Stoddart was born Nov. 28, 1953, in Morpeth, England, not far from the border with Scotland. His father was a farmer on the estate of a local aristocrat, and his mother was a homemaker.
After finishing school at 17, Mr. Stoddart wanted to become a reporter, but the local newspaper, the Berwick Advertiser, only had an opening for an apprentice photographer. He moved to London in 1978, when Fleet Street was the hub of the British newspaper industry, and soon picked up freelance work for the prestigious Sunday Times, which led to work for Time magazine.
Between assignments, he was based in London, where for a time his partner was Kate Hoey, a high-profile Northern Irish politician and member of the British Parliament. In 2012, he returned to his northern English roots, settling in the village of Ponteland. Survivors include his wife of six years, Ailsa Hall Stoddart, and a sister.
Mr. Stoddart received the Larry Burrows Award for Exceptional War Photography in 2003. The following year, he published a book of his photographs, “iWITNESS.”
“Photography became very complicated in the old Fleet Street days when you were shooting with zooms, having a flash on [your camera] and all of that,” Mr. Stoddart told Digital Camera magazine. “When I stripped all that away, I started to work much closer to the subject, trying to look into their eyes and see what’s going on in their head, and tell the story … then the work became much more powerful.”