EDDIE ADAMS

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by harveyje, Sep 19, 2004.

  1. harveyje

    harveyje Subscriber

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    I just read in a short news article that Eddie Adams, Pulitzer Prize winner, died today in NYC. He took the picture of the shooting of a VC officer in public which caused significant controversy in the press.
     
  2. rakuhito

    rakuhito Member

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  3. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Certainly, with that one shot, he made photographic history. IMO this one and the series from SMith about the mercury poison in Japan are about the most memorable pictures of the 20th century. Oh, and I guess the NG afghan girl too.
     
  4. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    I would add the flag raising on Iwo Jima by Joe Rosenthal to that list.

    I haven't read any of the links provided in this thread yet, but I vividly remember reading an interview with Eddie a year or so ago. He did not like his Pulitzer Prize photo and had never hung it on the wall. Most of all, he hated how it was taken out of context and how it became an icon of the Anti-War movement. Eddie was there and had witnessed the situation develop. I forget exactly what had happened, but Eddie always said the shooting was fully justified. Idealogues on the other side made into an example of a corrupt and brutal regime executing an "innocent freedom fighter".

    Eddie had not gone looking for such a situation with the thought capturing a Pulitzer Prize winner. In contrast, the fellow who took the shot of the little girl running down the road on fire, did go purposely looking for a situation. What galls me the wrong way is that he did not drop his camera and do something to help the girl. Instead, he let her run by, on fire, knowing he has a Prize-candidate shot. There is film-footage taken at the incident showing this, and the photographer has stated his motivation in several interviews.
     
  5. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I really respect Adams. I respected him even more when he gave his reasons for giving up war photography. He goes into this on pixchannel.com.
     
  6. happysnapper

    happysnapper Member

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    [/QUOTE]I haven't read any of the links provided in this thread yet, but I vividly remember reading an interview with Eddie a year or so ago. He did not like his Pulitzer Prize photo and had never hung it on the wall. Most of all, he hated how it was taken out of context and how it became an icon of the Anti-War movement. Eddie was there and had witnessed the situation develop. I forget exactly what had happened, but Eddie always said the shooting was fully justified. Idealogues on the other side made into an example of a corrupt and brutal regime executing an "innocent freedom fighter".

    Eddie had not gone looking for such a situation with the thought capturing a Pulitzer Prize winner. In contrast, the fellow who took the shot of the little girl running down the road on fire, did go purposely looking for a situation. What galls me the wrong way is that he did not drop his camera and do something to help the girl. Instead, he let her run by, on fire, knowing he has a Prize-candidate shot. There is film-footage taken at the incident showing this, and the photographer has stated his motivation in several interviews.[/QUOTE]


    In an interview Adams said that the South Vietnamese officer had just had his family killed by that Viet Cong fighter earlier in the day. He also said that the photograph unfairly painted an image around the officer who ended up fleeing to America and dying here. While this image taken out of context is powerful, it is also powerful even in the context of the situation at hand.
    As for the photograph taken of the napalmed girl mentioned... is it not just as important to know when to put the camera down as it is to know when to pick it up?? Have we as image makers thrown our humanity away just to take a picture in those situations?
    Ray
     
  7. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    That's exactly my point Ray. The photographer had an agenda to fullfill - seek out an incident in the war showing its brutality that would advance his own position - and that of his agenda - and then call the soldiers the criminals - while the photographer stands by and lets the girl burn until a group of the "criminal" soldiers came to her aid. So, who's the criminal in that situation?
     
  8. happysnapper

    happysnapper Member

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    Most certainly both parties were criminal in their actions and we are witnessing history repeating itself as a leader of a powerful nation is determined to force his will on a "lessor and uncivilized" nation. So, who should stand at that war crimes trial?
    Ray
     
  9. mark

    mark Member

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    The guy who took the picture of the Vulture over the Ethiopian baby, in the eighties, never could live with what he did to get that photo. He said he waited for an hour or so while that child just laid there. He knew the vulture would come over. Before he comitted suicide he made a rather pointed statement towards those photographers who do not put down the camera, as he should have done in that instance. He used himself as the example of how not to be.
     
  10. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Now, now Ray, lets leave the political inferences out of this like Sean has decreed. We are simply discussing Eddie Albert's ethical stand on the photo that made him famous and contrasting that behavior to that of a contemporary of his. No World Hunger solutions involved.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 20, 2004
  11. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I saw an interview with James Nachtwey a year or so ago, and he spoke very eloquently about this dilemma between making the photograph and putting the camera down to help. He has, from time to time put the camera down, but if there is help nearby then he has a job to do, and a story to tell. That's not to say there aren't photographers out there who exploit situations for their own egos, agendas, and careers, because there are.

    Anyway, Eddie Adam's picture is very important to the history of photography and to the history of Vietnam. It's a powerful and shocking image, but this photograph and photojournalism in general has it's limits, and always requires context. I've rarely seen this image reproduced with an accompanying story.
     
  12. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Maybe he's had time to reflect on the moment. In the interview I saw with him several years back, he seemed to feel completely justified and was quite vocal in his purpose; that being to capture a shot that would become iconic and garner him the Prize.

    From the film footage that I saw, there seemed to be a considerable amount of time from when the children came into view and when the soldiers got to them to help. Nachtwey was clearly the closest to them, even ahead of the film camera who was closer to the soldiers. Even after he had the shot and put his camera down, I didn't see him doing anything to help. But that's all 30-some years in the past now. And my recollections may also be clouded by time.

    All in all, I never felt revulsion over Eddie Adam's photo. I did feel revulsion that someone could publish the picture of the little girl. I though it was entirely exploitive back then when I was sweating out the war, and now, thirty-some years later.
     
  13. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    That scene was also recorded in Video at the same time. It's showing on the News was what let Adams' picture become famous.
     
  14. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Thanks for jogging my dusty memory Bill. Now I remember the film and Eddie's photo was published by Life magazine as I remember.

    The Iwo flag raising was also filmed. That was truly an iconic moment just in itself. From the accounts of the moment that have been written, the entire battle stopped for a couple moments.

    I think it interesting that in both incidents, a still photograph could have been made from the film footage that showed the same picture. But the most memorable image in both cases came from a single photographer with a single click of the shutter.
     
  15. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'm sorry to have confused things here. I wanted to make a brief and very general point about the role of the combat photographer, and James Nachtwey is currently one of the best war photographers around. He did not cover Vietnam, but has covered a number of more recent wars, mostly for Time Magazine. I believe the girl burning photograph was made by Nick Ut. (I could be wrong here, and I know less about that photograph and photographer, so I won't add anything there!)

    I think Eddie Adams was unfairly criticized when people suggested he should have stopped the execution. He clearly knew what happened, and did his job. I'm not sure he could have predicted at that moment the impact of his photo. And, Alex, you are right about the single moment. Still photographs from wars leave a lasting impression, and an important historical record. Video can't touch it!

    Of course, I wonder with digital photography, if we will have a lasting and permanent archive of Iraq, since most of the photographs have been digital. Will the files be accessible in, say, forty years?
     
  16. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    That "execution" photograph has been widely misunderstood. Taken out of context, it appears to be an inhuman act: I've read recently that the victim had been captured a few moments before, after he brutally murdered eight people, and the General "lost it" after viewing the bodies.
    Not a vindication, by any means, but a "softening" of the cruelty. Still terrible, but more understandable.

    The media seized that image, and published it with the full intent of having it stir up sentiment ... already highly opposed to a unjustifiable - and unpopular war... a distortion of the true situation ... with the idea that "the ends justify the means".
     
  17. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    That image was of the second flag raising... staged expressly for the news media. The first flag was considered to be too small, so another was obtained, and the scene recreated.