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Week 1 - Pulitzer 1942 - Labour Strife in Detroit - Milton Brooks

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by , 10-02-2008 at 06:05 PM (4004 Views)
The following is a rip from my blog. I'll do these each Friday and post them here as well as my blog. I will include the links to references in this first one but it's a bit of an effort so from next week onwards it's just a straight copy/paste.
Each Friday I will post a Pulitzer winning photograph. I am no art critic by any stretch of the imagination so do not expect an amazing critique. I do however know a bit about the photos and will attempt to give you some of the back story and any other little interesting facts I have come across.

Pulitzer 1942 - Milton Brooks - The Detroit News

Camera 4x5 Speed Graphic

Film Kodak

Lens 127mm

For the first week we have the action packed Labor Strife in Detroit (Ford Strikers Riot) from 1942, the inaugural winner captured by Milton Brooks.

The Speed Graphic by Graflex was the camera used by professionals, ie the press, around the mid 20th Century. They were difficult to use by today's standards and offered only one shot per six to seven seconds. With this in mind, to get that one shot you needed patience and an instinct unlike anything we are used to with today's 6fps prosumer digital cameras that can fill your 32GB card in a matter of minutes with hundreds of RAW images. I make this point to emphasise how special these early images are and how true the saying, 'the decisive moment', really is. I also make this point to emphasise the meaning behind Milton Brooks's nickname, 'One-shot Milton'. He was known as a master of patience and it is said that he would often make one shot, and then go home.

In Spring of 1941 Brooks, working for The Detroit News, was to be found at the River Rouge - one of Ford's biggest plants in Detroit. He was covering a strike started after a man was fired on April 3rd. Henry Ford had always insisted that he would close down a plant before dealing with the unions and he held out unlike his competitors, General Motors and Chrysler. A swell of workers walked then line and urged everyone to strike, closing down the 120,000 man plant.

A man was seen arguing with the pickets. He was trying to get past the line. Other photographers moved on looking for more interesting scenes. Brooks, patient as always, waited it out observing the now heated argument. It didn't take long for the clubs to come out swinging. Brooks took his picture and went on to win the first Pulitzer in the field of photography.


  1. menelajas's Avatar
    I don't remember the name of photographer who took 2 shoots per second with graflex...(double holder) He was shooting burning airship.



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