Monday, 20 September 2004

My first real job, and the profession for which I went to college, was photojournalism. One of my heros of the trade, Eddie Adams, died Sunday from Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS).

I've since moved on to other work, a decision I sometimes ponder when I am feeling especially creative without an outlet. But the extreme importance of the trade, which Eddie Adams personified, has stuck with me over the years.

Adams was probably most famous for his picture of a Viet Cong officer being shot in the head in the streets of Saigon, Vietnam in 1968. But his contributions to photojournalism and bringing the world closer to all of us went much further than that. He covered 13 wars, worked many years for the Associated Press and Time-Life, and photographed presidents and other heads of state during his extensive and colorful career.

In his own unique way he took the trade as seriously as anyone, realizing the power and responsibility of the lens and film. Writing about the famous picture from Saigon in '68 in Time Magazine, Adams said:

"The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. What the photograph didn't say was, 'What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American soldiers?'"

If a picture was worth a thousand words, Eddie Adams' images are worth a million. He taught new photographers the trade, and passed his talents and values on to many.

I never met Eddie Adams personally, so I can't say I knew him, but I can say that he helped me to better know myself when I was learning the trade and craft of photojpournalism. Thank you, Eddie Adams, for always making me think, and for making life a little more real while you were here with us.

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Monday, 20 September 2004 20:02:19 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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