Wednesday, March 15, 2017


When thinking of photographs which show the horrors of war, many will think of the photograph titled “The Terror of war,” more commonly known as “The Napalm Girl.”

Nick Ut was born as Hu?nh Công Út in Long An, Vietnam, in 1951.  In 1966, at a very young age, Ut joined The Associated Press (AP) in Vietnam, after his older brother Huynh Thanh My, also an AP photographer, was killed in combat. Ut covered the rest of the Vietnam War for AP. Later, he also worked in Tokyo, and in 1977 he was transferred to Los Angeles.

There were many close calls for Nick Ut while covering the war in Vietnam. When the Americans and South Vietnamese invaded Cambodia in 1970, he was wounded three times: in his stomach, his left leg and in his chest. The highlight of Ut’s career came on 8 June 1972, when he photographed Kim Phuc running and screaming down route 1 after her village had been bombed with Napalm by South Vietnamese planes. Immediately after making the photo, he rushed the girl to a hospital, which saved her life.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning “Napalm Girl” photo

The image won every major photographic award in 1973, such as the World Press Photo award, the Pulitzer Prize, the George Polk Memorial Award and the Overseas Press Club award. In 1993, Nick Ut was asked to open a new AP office in Hanoi, where he worked with his old colleague from his Saigon years, George Esper. Ut is now a US citizen and currently lives in Los Angeles. He still works for AP as a photojournalist, and is still in touch with Kim Phuc, now living in Canada, whom he calls every week.

Throughout his career, Nick Ut always maintained a very jovial demeanor, despite of the horror he had seen and the combat injuries he suffered.

In spite of his many achievements, his career will always be described by his Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of Phan Thị Kim Phúc and the story of how he saved her life.  But the world of photograph is certainly not losing one of its best known photographers.  According to the CBC, Ut stated that “My camera is like my doctor, my medicine … I’ll take pictures until I die.”

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