Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pulitzer Photographic Prizes: 1968

Between 1942 and 1967 a Pulitzer Prize for Photography was awarded for photojournalism, that is, for photographs telling a news story. 

In 1968 that award was replaced by awards in two new categories:
  • the Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography (photography in the nature of breaking news); and
  • the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography (human interest and matters associated with new items).

From 1955 World Press Photo has awarded prizes for the best photographs in 10 categories, with an overall award for the image that "... is not only the photojournalistic encapsulation of the year, but represents an issue, situation or event of great journalistic importance, and does so in a way that demonstrates an outstanding level of visual perception and creativity".

This series looks at the Pulitzer and World Press Photo awards from inception.
 
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Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography
Year:
1968
Photographer:
Rocco Morabito
Photograph:
The Kiss of Life

The Photograph:


About the photograph:

It’s 1967 and Rocco Morabito is on his way to take photos of a railroad strike when he notices linesmen working on high. He continues his journey, takes his photographs and heads back. On the way he hears screaming from above, looks up and seesone of the linesmen, apprentice Randall Champion, hanging upside down on his safety belt after having been electrocuted. 

Morabito recounted the next sequence of events in a later interview:

“I took a picture right quick. J.D. Thompson (another lineman) was running toward the pole. I went to my car and called an ambulance. I got back to the pole and J.D. was breathing into Champion. I backed off, way off, until I hit a house and I couldn’t go any farther. I took another picture.” 

It is the photograph that wins Morabito the Pulitzer.

Thompson finally shouts down “He’s breathing.” Champion survives.

Btw: Champion died in 2002 of heart failure, Thompson is still living.

The Photographer:

Rocco Morabito (1920-1989) 

Rocco Morabito began working for the Jacksonville Journal at age 10 as a newsboy selling papers. During World War 11 he served as a ball-turret gunner on a B-17. After the war, he returned to the Jacksonville Journal and started his photography career shooting sporting events for the paper. He worked for the Journal for 42 years, 33 of them as a photographer, until retiring in 1982.

In 2000, Rocco Morabito, at the age of 79, said, ”I get requests all the time from people who teach mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and have proof that it works. I am proud of that.”

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Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography
Year:
1968
Photographer:
Toshio Sakai
Photograph:
Dreams of Better Times

The Photograph:


About the photograph:

From “Picture Coverage of the World: Pulitzer Prize Winning Photos” by By Heinz-Dietrich Fischer:

“In the previous year the Japanese photographer had crouched with the soldiers of the American B Company, about 40 miles northeast of Saigon. They were behind sandbags and mud banks, surrounded by deep jungle. It was Sakai’s first tour of Vietnam, and later he remembered: There was a commotion in the forest, then all became silent. Birds stopped chirping and insects quieted. My heart was beating fast. A tense atmosphere filled the air. Suddenly, shells exploded overhead. It was a Vietcong attack. The Americans returned the fire, then both sides stopped shooting, and sakai remembered it as a moment of peace: “I saw a black soldier lying on the bunker and taking a nap. Behind him, I saw another white soldier holding an M-16 rifle, crouching and watching. The sleeping soldier must have dreamt of better times in his homeland. I quietly released the shutter.”

From the same book, commenting on the photograph:

Photo depicts a scene from a camp of US troops in South Vietnam. The soldier in the foreground slept on a pile of sand bags while his comrade in the background was watching guard. The two troops were of the First Army Division and rested after heavy sniper and mortar fire. They were wearing ponchos to stay dry even though the Monsoon was pouring ceaselessly. The ponch was versatile: It also kept away the red ants. Another advantage was that an injured soldier in a poncho was easy to pull away from the action. The two troops were taking this rest at the Landing Zone Rufe, about 36 miles northeast of Phuc Vinh. The Monsoon was just one of the obstacles to the American troops which they were not used to and which was therefore difficult to handle. With reference to the photographer’s message, the sleeping GI was perhaps dreaming of a time without rain and without war.

The Photographer:

Toshio Sakai (1940-1999) was the third Japanese to win a Pulitzer.

In 1965, Sakai joined the Tokyo bureau of United Press International and was sent to cover the Vietnam War. He won the first Pulitzer Prize in the feature photo category for the picture above. In 1986, Sakai joined the Tokyo bureau of Agence France-Presse as photo director and became a freelance in 1989. He set up a video film planning firm in 1994. Sakai died in 1999 of a heart attack.


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