|Born||June 12, 1933
New Kensington, Pennsylvania, USA
|Died||September 18, 2004 (at age 71)
New York City, New York
Eddie Adams was a famous American photographer and also a photojournalist. He is noted for his portraits of high-profile celebrities and many politicians as well as covering 13 wars. In 1969, he won a Pulitzer Prize for a photograph he took during the Vietnam War.
Eddie was born on June 12, 1933, in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. His interest in photography became obvious when he was a teenager. For a while, he even worked as a wedding photographer, which soon turned into a professional occupation. After graduating high school, Adams served in United States Marie Corps.
He spent three years as a combat photographer during the Korean War. After this, he left the marines and joined the staff of the Evening Bulletin in Philadelphia. He worked there from 1958 to 1962. During this time, he became a photographer for the AP (Association Press).
While covering the Vietnam War, Adams took a controversial and provocative photograph. This was a picture of police chief General Nguyen Loan executing a Vietcong prisoner named Nguyen Van Lem on Siagon Street. The photo was taken on February 1, 1968, during the stages of the Tet Offensive.
In 1969, Eddie Adams won a Pulitzer Prize for the Spot News Photography. He also won a World Press Photo award for the same photograph. Anticipating the great impact of Adams’ photograph, there was an attempt by editors to balance the photograph in the New York Times by putting it into perspective and showing photographs of what the Vietcong had done at the same time.
However, Eddie later apologized to General Nguyen along with his entire family for the irreparable damage this photo did to the General’s honor. After the General’s death, Eddie Adams praised Nguyen as a hero.
Adams also shot a series of photographs of Vietnamese refugees sailing to Thailand in a 30-foot boat, only for them to be towed all the back into the open seas by the Thai marines. These photos and the accompanying reports helped in persuading the President to grant over 200,000 Vietnamese people asylum. For these photographs, he won the Robert Capa Gold Medal from Overseas Press Club in 1977.
Apart from the Pulitzer Prize, Eddie Adams received more than 500 awards, including the George Polk Award in 1968, 1978, 1977. He also won several awards from the World Press Photo, Sigma Delta Chi, NPPA, Overseas Press Club and several other organizations.
Death and Legacy
On September 8, 2004, Adams Eddie passed away in New York. His legacy still continues through Barnstorm: The Eddie Adams Workshop, which is a photography that he began in 1988. He was also the subject of the 2009 documentary feature entitled An Unlikely Weapon, which was directed by Susan Cooper.
Adams’ photographic archive was donated by Alyssa Adams, his widow. It documents his career, including the award-winning Saigon Execution photo. The archive measures 200 linear feet and includes slides, prints, negatives, audio materials, video materials, diaries, news stories, notes and other tear sheets.
Apart from covering the Vietnam War, this collection also includes some of the in-depth features on poverty, Mother Teresa, the homeless, anti-war demonstrations and other riots, Brazil, alternative society and other portraits of high profile figures such as Fidel Castro, Bette Davis, Ronald Reagan and Jerry Lewis.