Dith Pran, the photojournalist who survived and documented the devastation wrought by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and whose story is told in the movie The Killing Fields, has died in New York.
The New York Times has done an impressive job bringing together his obituary – including adding a recent interview with him to their video project, the Last Word – with stories about him, by him, slide shows of his images and audio of his reactions to the first public trial of a Khmer Rouge figure. (You’ll need to register with the NYTimes site to see some of this. Registration is free).
Seeing his images again is a reminder of how powerful pictures can be in storytelling.
Which reminds me, NZ journalist Chris Bourke wrote a couple of posts on photojournalism recently which are well worth a read. In one he reminds us of some of the biggest moments in photojournalism history…
… and he laments the decline of photojournalism: “I despair when I see quality magazines that once championed photo journalism now making do with endless bland images from agencies. The publishers are tight-fisted, so the photo librarians cut corners (there are plenty of gritty agency shots that aren’t “posed by models”). The result is a vanilla magazine, from cover to back page.”
In the other post he writes about an extaordinary interview he had in London with John G Morris who, among other things “managed the legendary photo-agency Magnum in its early years, and was photo-editor at the New York Times and Washington Post during the tumultuous 1960s”.
He talked to Morris about the front page images that helped turn Americans against the war in Vietnam, about the difference in coverage of World War II and the war in Iraq – “Let’s face it, [in the Second World War] we were propagandists. The American and Allied press was not neutral, we were fighting the war and we were an instrument of propaganda” – and much more.
Well worth a look.