Pulitzer Prize winner Nick Ut and one of his most famous subjects were welcomed by Councillor Carl Austin, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Manchester, when they visited the city in June.
Many will be familiar with the famous photo, named ‘The Terror of War’, which won him the prize. It is the haunting snap of a young Vietnamese girl running from the destruction caused by a napalm bomb. That girl, now a woman, Kim Phuc, is currently a Canadian resident and was also in Manchester for the visit.
The horror of war was laid bare in the photo that Ut took those many years ago, and the Councillor said of the visit and the pair’s contribution to society:
“It was a humbling experience to welcome both Nick and Kim to our city on behalf of the people of Manchester. Nick’s work is indelibly printed on all of our memories and the images he created inarguably help define the history of the second half of the twentieth century.
“His commitment to photography is a testament to the power pictures have to communicate ideas across cultural and geographical boundaries and how they can shape the way we perceive the world.”
Indeed, many perceive this photo to have helped change the attitudes of Americans to the Vietnam War, and it’s certainly rare for a photo to not only have an immediate cultural impact, but also remain marked into the consciousness of so many people around the world.
For the subject Kim, though, it has taken many years to fully come to grips with the attention that the photo has left her with. Throughout her life, which has had many ups and downs, she has periodically maintained contact with the man who took that iconic picture all those years ago.
Impact and subject
For all young photographers, the impact that the photo has had is something that they will certainly aspire to. The story around the pair though has, in recent years, become as important as the photo itself. Nick’s humanity took over and he was crucial in getting Kim the help she needed to survive the ordeal. Generally, a photographer is not supposed to become too involved with his or her subject matter; however, when a life was at stake, it became a moral conundrum for the man with the camera.
Manchester is itself noted for its cultural contribution to the western world, so it’s no surprise the two people involved in such a noted piece of photography were welcomed with open arms by the city.