September 24, 2004 by

Eddie Adams


Categories: Artists, Hollywood, Media, Military

eadams.jpgThrough the lens of Edward Thomas Adams’ camera, the world existed in stark contrasts — black and white, young and old, life and death.
In a career spanning four decades, the Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist covered 13 wars and published his enduring images in newspapers and magazines around the world. Adams shot pictures of presidents, dictators, religious figures and soldiers, but he was best known for a photograph taken in Saigon on Feb. 1, 1968.
On the second day of the Tet Offensive, Adams and an NBC news crew heard gunfire. They followed the noise to a street corner where South Vietnamese soldiers were leading a handcuffed Viet Cong captive to Lt. Col. Nguyen Ngoc Loan, chief of the South Vietnamese National Police. Assuming the prisoner was about to be interrogated, Adams raised his camera to capture the moment. Instead, he took a picture of Lung shooting the prisoner in the head. (Adams later learned that the prisoner was a Viet Cong officer responsible for slaughtering an entire family.)
The Saigon execution picture earned Adams the 1969 Pulitzer Prize. He’d eventually receive more than 500 honors, including the Robert Capa Award and three George Polk Memorial Awards.
Born in New Kensington, Pa., Adams first worked as a photographer for his high school newspaper. After graduation, he served for three years as a Marine Corps combat photographer during the Korean War. Adams joined The Associated Press in 1962 and worked on and off at the wire service for 14 years. He also shot pictures for Time magazine and Parade. In the final chapter of his life, he took pictures of celebrities and launched Barnstorm: The Eddie Adams Photojournalism Workshop.
Adams died on Sept. 19 from complications of Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 71.
Watch an Interview With Adams
Listen to a Tribute From NPR

6 Responses to Eddie Adams

  1. Ben

    I was asked to complete a research task on famous photographers, Eddie Adams was last on the list read to me in class nobody else put there name up for it so i did. I straight away got on the net did a now famous google search with Eddie Adams as my target and this is my conclusion. Mr Adams it would have been an honour to meet you, i have enjoyed the short time that i researched your photography, your a gentlemen, an insperation, an icon a hero.
    RIP Mr Adams.

  2. Keith Sikes

    I am the founder of the Valley Photo Center in Western Massachusetts. In 2003, we were planning a day-long photofest and looking for a keynote speaker. I searched many sources and and was at the end of the rope with great photographers who wanted $10-20,000 to come to Springfield, MA, or inexperienced photographers who would not draw an interested crowd.
    I had always admired Eddie Adams’ work and the fact that he gave so much back through Barnstorm and his other work with young photographers. I took a shot and he looked over what we were about and agreed to come for a paltry sum of $1,000. He later told me it was that I was as interested in the novice photographer as the established photographer that had motivated him to say yes.
    Before his presentation Rich Swiatlowski and I kidnapped him and took him for a lunch at the Student Prince German restaurant and shared a few beers and heard some amazing stories. He then did his presentation which is fondly remembered as a standing only affair by a man who had few if any equals.
    I later visited Eddie in New Yorkl and he was always the gracious host.
    I miss him and I will never forget him.
    Keith Sikes

  3. Sgt. Dennis W. Jackson

    I met Eddie in Kuwait during O.E.F. in 2002. I was assigned to be with him going into Afganistan for a shoot for Parade. I hate to say at that time I didn’t know who he was until he told me about one of his pic’s. To watch him do the job that he truely loved, I know that was the job I wanted to do in the military and outside the military. I change my job from broadcast journalist to Combat Cameraman in hopes to crawl in the foot steps of this GREAT PHOTOJOURNLIST.
    You are truely missed my friend
    Sgt. Dennis W. Jackson

  4. Edwin Minch

    I never met Eddie Adams but thanks to his series of photographs “Boat of no smiles” in which he photographed 50 refugees escaping Vietnam in a boat, he will never be forgotten.
    My wife’s father, brother, aunt, uncle, and a cousin were among those refugees that made part the journey with him to freedom. His published pictures of that journey made it to Washington, congress and President Jimmy Carter who opened the door for more than 200,000 refugees to come to the US. My wife later was one of them.
    Thank you Eddie, you touched the lives of so many through the power of your pictures.

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