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They could break the stereotypical traditions of covering news, because they knew someone had to tell the truth as it is. These men and women, brought images from the toughest scenes to the fore from around the world. A reporter can get his news over the phone, but a photojournalist has to be on ground zero capturing every moment of reality resisting the temptation of being a part of it, because it’s just the job, and not an emotionally driven one. Despite the legendary work of photojournalists, they often become the target of public ire. However, little do these angered mobs realize that it is only because of these pictures that, truth can be unearthed years later. It’s not an exaggeration when they say a picture is worth a thousand words.
Fondly known as Mo, his work has been a key witness to the dauntless photographs and video tapes of Ethiopian famine. His company Camerapix, at Nairobi became the headquarters of his operations. Mo’s other famous works include, fall of Idi Amin, the military leader of Uganda and Mengistu Haile Mariam, a key official of Derg. In 1991 Amin lost his left arm in Eithiopia during ammunition dump explosion. He died at the age of 53 while revolting against hijackers of Eithiopian Airlines Flight 961 along with his colleague Brian Tetley who was 61 at the time. His body broke into pieces just as the plane on its crash landing due to no fuel.
A Pulitzer Prize winner, Eddie Adams was an American photojournalist. Counted amongst the famous photographers, he served in United State Marine Corps, as a combat photographer during the Korean war. It was during his tenure with Associated Press, when he captured the award-winning moment through the lens of General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing a Vietcong prisoner. This iconic photographer put the brutality of America’s ally into perspective. As Eddie Adams puts it, “The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera”.
First on the famous female photojournalists list is Margaret Bourke-White. First female war correspondent. She became the first female ever to have the permit to photograph Soviet industry. She also was the first lady to be hired as a photographer for Henry Luce’s Life magazine. It was here that her picture of Fort Peck Dam appeared on first issue of Life including the cover page of the magazine on 23 November 1936.
Inspired by his art critic father, Pablo Bartholomew learned his first lessons of photography from Richard Bartholomew, at home. Born in India, his career in photojournalism mainly records societies in conflict and transition. At the age of 19, he won his first World Press Photo award for his series Morphine Addicts in India. His second claim to fame became the World Press Photo of the Year award for Bhopal Gas Tragedy in 1984. Some of his notable photo essays are ‘The Chinese in Calcutta’, ‘The Indians in America’ and ‘The Naga Tribes of Northeast India’.
The records of Burma anti-government protests also known as Union of Myanmar, still do not have an exact figure of casualties. However, the heart wrenching photographs of Kenji Nagai shed light on the brutality and slavery of Burmese uprising. Known to take up conflict assignments and dangerous zones around the world, he was shot dead during the Burma conflict. Even in his last moments, he continued taking shots as he lay wounded on the ground till he finally lost his life to gunshot injuries to his chest. Burma Media Association posthumously commemorated him for reported the truth about Burma.
William Eugene Smith, Kevin Carter, Lucian Perkins, Altaf Qadri, James Richardson, Tim Page, Susan Meiselas and Donald McCullin are few more who make it to the list of famous photojournalists. Walter Lopss, Charles Conlon and Toni Frissell are some of the famous sports journalists who’ve left an indelible mark on anyone who has ever seen their shots. Names of famous photographers would make an unending list. What needs to be noted is that these gifted men and women, had an eye that could focus only through a lens to get the ground reality of conflict, compassion, transition and change in an untouched way to the blinded world.
These people have given the world a new definition of courage that goes beyond the call of duty. The unprecedented work of these photojournalists will remain a subject of study for an eternity, teaching the laypersons value of truth. And this is what makes them not just famous, but eternal.