DPP Home Profiles Nick Ut: Master Of Spot News

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nick Ut: Master Of Spot News

From Hell to Hollywood, Nick Ut gets the shots that the editorial desk needs. He never misses, and he does his work with style and aplomb.


This Article Features Photo Zoom

Nick Ut is a true professional. He covers every assignment with equal dedication, whether it’s internationally significant or a celebrity being hauled into court. He never relents until he has the shot that captures the essence of the story. Above: An L.A. Fire Department investigator at the scene of an apparent natural gas explosion, July 30, 2010.



Robert Blake after hearing the verdicts in his trial for the murder of wife Bonny Lee Bakley, March 16, 2005.
Newspaper and wire-service photographers don’t have the luxury of time. They often have to create images that tell a story in a single frame and upload them within minutes to their respective offices. The difficulty is compounded by the fact that they’re often working in fluid situations with little if any predictability. Yet out of the chaos can come extraordinary photographs. At times, the resulting images are so powerful that they eclipse the body of work that the photographer has created—Joe Rosenthal’s flag-raising on Iwo Jima (it wasn’t a setup shot, but a second, larger flag being raised), Eddie Adams’ photograph of the execution of a Viet Cong soldier on a Saigon street in 1968, and Nick Ut’s image of a nine-year-old napalm victim fleeing her village in Vietnam in 1972. All were awarded Pulitzer Prizes.

None was a lucky click of the shutter. The photos were the results captured by seasoned professional photographers in incredibly tense situations.

While Rosenthal and Adams have passed on after long and successful careers, Nick Ut is alive and well, living in Los Angeles and continuing to bring us powerful imagery through the Associated Press. Sometimes the news he covers is monumental. Sometimes, especially in Hollywood where celebrity is often the name of the game, it borders on the absurd. Regardless of what’s in front of his lens, Ut captures the scene with a masterful eye.
 
You might see one photo in the newspaper, but on the Internet—Yahoo, Google—they want more photos. Journalists now are shooting more like a movie.
 
DPP: What are the types of stories you typically cover for the AP in L.A.?

Nick Ut: After the Vietnam War and two years in Japan, I came to Los Angeles in 1977 and have covered everything from fires, earthquakes and riots to baseball and basketball games to celebrities going in and out of court and jail. Anything that’s a news story, I cover. When the President flies into LAX, we always have an AP photographer standing by in case something happens—the landing, the take-off, everything. We cover everything he does on his visit that we have access to.

 

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