Pulitzer Prize winning photographs that changed the world

in photography •  14 days ago

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Original Photo by Jack Dykinga 1970

Sometimes a picture is worth more than 1,000 words

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Yesterday I visited the Brigham Young University's Museum of Art where they the Pulitzer Prize Photographs exhibit being showcased. I was able to see and photograph some of the most iconic photographs that have been taken throughout history. They are photos that have changed the world.

Some of the photographs in this post are graphic and some may find disturbing or haunting to look at, but it is important to remember that some of these images have brought change with what they show. The acts or events in the images happened and without some of the images, news of those events would not have spread and nothing would have been able to change in the area of the world where it was taken.


The first image was taken by Jack Dykinga between July 26th - 29th, 1970, while he was a photographer for the Chicago Sun-Times. He was documenting conditions at the Lincoln and Dixon State Schools in Illinois for the Mentally Retarded.

For the first hour and a half, I didn't take any pictures at all, I just watched. I was overwhelmed by the horror of it.

Hundreds of patients were crammed inside of the buildings where they were naked, neglected and covered in their own excrement. Some of them where tied to chairs to be restrained, while others were heavily sedated. This was due to the facilities being severely understaffed, where one single aide was usually in charge of trying to care for more than 100 patients at once.

Dykinga photographed the lying alone and naked in the fetal position.

He looks like a baby. In reality he's probably in his 30s. It just had this extreme sense of loneliness

After Dkyinga's photos and the story was published, public outcry over the conditions led to changes. More staff was hired and new buildings were built to ease the overcrowding issues.


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Original Photo by Stanley J. Foreman 1975


Stanly J. Foreman was a photographer for the Boston Herald American. On July 22, 1975, he heard reports of a building fire and in the report it stated that there were people trapped inside of the burning apartment complex.

When Foreman got to the building he saw what he described as a "roaring inferno." On the fire escape balcony on the fifth story, Foreman saw a woman and a child trapped. He positioned himself to take pictures of the rescue as the firefighters were raising a ladder up towards them.

Suddenly someone screamed ... or maybe it was a shriek of the metal as the fire escape balcony gave way.

As the balcony pulled away from the building, the woman and the child began to fall from the fifth story balcony towards the ground.

I turned around because I didn't want to see them hit.

The woman was 19 and died on impact. The two year old was her goddaughter and survived the fall.


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Original Photo by Neal Ulevich 1976


This photograph was taken by Neal Ulevich in Bangkok, Thailand, on October 6, 1976, during the Thammasat University massacre . That was an infamous day in the history of Thailand that many of the country still do not talk about or know what happened on that day.

The image is of a man beating the hanged body of a student with a chair while a mob of onlookers watches. To this day, there is no true number of casualties for that day, but it is estimated to be 46 students that were killed and hundreds wounded.

Neal Ulevich won the Pulitzer Prize for the image, but when the papers in Bangkok ran the story about Ulevich winning the Pulitzer, they did not show the image.


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Original Photo by Kevin Carter 1994


This image is the one that stuck with me the most out of all of the images there. Mostly due to the fact that I spent time in Tanzania doing some documentary photography, so I could relate to some of the feelings that Carter experienced.

Carter was a photographer in Sudan for the New York Times in March of 1993 covering the famine and the civil war. He came across this tiny girl whose body was wasting away from hunger. She was struggling to reach a nearby feeding center. In the background is the vulture that is just waiting for her to die.

After Carter took the photo here, he ran and chased the bird away and then he said he went under a tree and just cried. Many people criticized him for not doing more for the girl, but all of the journalists were warned not to touch any of the famine victims in the area because of disease. This image defined his career, but also sent him into a deep depression.

I'm really, really sorry that I didn't pick the child up.

Carter won the Pulitzer prize for this image, but three months later, he ended up taking his own life. In his suicide note, he wrote:

I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and anger and pain ... of starving or wounded children.

Power of the Picture

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As you can see, photographs can have a lasting impact and can influence change in the world. One thing that is universal is a photograph.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my post and to see the pictures I took of pictures. I am passionate about photography and I am hopeful that one day, my images will be able to stand the test of time.

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One thing that is universal is a photograph.

These photographs are absolutely amazing and so intense! The falling people by Foreman really got me. The first thing that came to mind is all the thoughts that would rush through as you can see the ground getting closer and closer. It gives me chills. When I was Traffic Accident Investigator in the Air Force we often times had to calculate the change in rates of speed because the body stops but the organs don't until they hit the walls of your body. There were some heart breaking calls.

The last picture was so heart wrenching. Can you imagine the amount of pain he was in, especially with the amount of criticism he received? Living with those memories would be a living nightmare.

Very powerful images for sure.

Some of the most compelling images of our history appear to be purely accidental or spontaneous

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I agree. Some of them it is all about being in the "right place at the right time." Even though most of these aren't considered the right place.

Whoa man, fuck, this really hit me in the feels.

Thanks for sharing :)

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Ya, there are some strong images in here. The Kevin Carter one is the one that gets me the most.

blown away.

What a moving article man, really... I'm still so moved by Kevin Carter's photo, the idea of being enable to help is so sad that it led him to his own death... Thanks for sharing

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Thank you. Carter's image has stuck with me for years and has a special place with me. It is such a strong image that makes you feel for the child. Images like this are what cause worldwide change and support to these regions of the world. It is one thing to hear about what is going on, but to see it is completely different.

Wow, these are some truly stunning images. Thanks for bringing us the backstories as well. What a world we live in. Capable of so much beauty and so much horror too.

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You are welcome. Thank you for taking the time to read my post and comment. I hope that one day I will have left a mark on this world like some of these photographers.

omg...these photos. It's really good to know the story behind each image - they say a photo can tell a thousand words, but the perspective is so important. God that poor dude in Africa. Sad is not even the word

Ohhhh. Those are just stunning photographs. I've seen the one from Boston, but the others were new to me.

Amazing. Thanks for bringing them to us.

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Heart touching and heart breaking both feelings stucked me and it's really a speechless situation for me.
Thank you for bringing these to us,
How innocent we are and in which stage our humanity is, very pathetic.

amazing post brother, shit. killing me