Pulitzer-Winning Photographer Discusses Capturing Tragedy

There's no doubt that photojournalism is an incredibly difficult profession full of a range of challenges for the photographer. This excellent and fascinating video sits down with a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist as he discusses how he captures tragedy in a respectful yet powerful way.

In this clip from PBS NewsHour's "Brief but Spectacular" series, photojournalist Marcus Yam discusses his work and his approach to creating images that capture and convey human tragedy in a way that maintains humanity and evokes empathy from his viewers. I really admire Yam's work for its strong personal touch: there's a real artistry in his images that captures moments of chaos and tragedy with impressive poise and refined elegance that goes beyond just visual documentation of events by initially capturing the viewer's attention via the raw power of the subject matter, but maintaining it and making them look more closely through the way he humanizes these images and creates an emotional response through them. His work is really powerful and well worth studying. Even if you're not someone who shoots photojournalistic work, his images and perspective can definitely inform and improve your work in other genres. Check out the video above for his full thoughts. 

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3 Comments

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

Makes me immediately think of Kevin Carter. I think that a lot of people don’t understand the emotional toll these photographers feel. Great and honest video. I missed it. Thanks for drawing attention.

Arthur Morgan's picture

Disaster journalism is an important aspect of modern life, and if done honestly the images will spread the information around the world. Hopefully this will assist in effective decisions being taken for management of our environment.
Before anyone judges these professionals as being vultures remember that there are many professions that are based upon the misery of others, with Firefighters being the most immediately obvious. Most Medical professions, all disaster managers, some Engineers and a long list of others work only because of disasters happening to people and environments.

Timely article. I was just writing an article last week about a near-tragedy that I photographed. I've thought often about it, but writing about it made the emotions run even deeper. I have great respect for photojournalists, they often have to photograph things that leave emotional scars.