There have been many Pulitzer Prize photos over the years, and almost all of them capture the sorrow of people all over the world.  Even though I did not go to the Newseum myself a few of the photos really caught my eye.  For instance, a picture taken by Toshio Sakai in 1968 called “Dreams of Better Times.”  It captures an american soldier from the Vietnam war sleeping on a pile of sacks.  He is sleeping after a battle in the poring rain, and as Sakai describes it, dreaming of a better time.  What drew me to this photo was the seeming peace of the solider in the mist of so much chaos.  He was in a living hell but he still was able to rest his head and dream under the shelter of a poncho.  Despite this soldiers seeming peace this photo still fills me with immense sadness.  What was this man and his comrades fighting for?  Why was he sleeping outside after a battle as it rained sheets upon unfamiliar ground?  Why was he away from home where he needed to dream of a better place?  It doesn’t feel fair and I wish that all those men had not had to experience so much death and discomfort.

Another photo that really struck a cord with me was “Illinois Sate Schools for the Retarded’  by Jack Dykinga.  This was another photo that created a feeling of sadness and disgust I almost can’t describe.  It depicts a man who was a patient at this “School for the Retarded”.  He was naked and without a blanket, curled into a tight ball on the middle of a cot.  It’s plain to see how desperate this man was, hanging on by a thread.  This poor man, and these poor patients.  These people who obviously couldn’t care for themselves were left unclothed and uncared for.   This picture made me lose a little more of my faith in humanity and our ability to care for those who can not care for themselves.  We are selfish creatures, leaving others of our kind who are helpless to suffer and rot in a pile of their own waste.

I have the upmost respect for the photographers that took these photos.  Having this job could not have been easy and being able to capture the pain of others on a film is a true skill.  I wonder if I would be able to stomach such a task.  To watch the horrors of our world and capture it with the snap of a lens.  I wonder which part of me would rule; the human part of me that wants to help others, or the photographer in me trying to capture the world with a glance.  Maybe I would sacrifice the perfect shot to help someone.  Or maybe I would shut myself away in the job to protect my mind and my heart from breaking in any terrible situation I might subject myself to.   Maybe I would act selfishly and save myself in a dangerous environment instead of someone else.  I’ll probably never know, but both are totally plausible scenarios.  I would like to think that I would help those in need, but when push comes to shove you can’t predict your actions in a situation like that.  It must be a hard decision to make and a hard life to lead.  I bet that many photographers go into this profession hoping to change the world with their pictures.  Only to come out tormented and damaged with a new understanding of the way things work.  I think it would take a special person to be able to take these eye opening photos and still come out trying their hardest to change the world.  It would take an amazing and incredibly strong person not to come out of these experiences broken and limp and lose their resolve in the process.

Here are the pictures mentioned above.  Sorry for the long post!









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