Pulitzer Prize Photo

“Saigon Execution” by Edwards Adam

The photograph “Saigon Execution” is best known for helping change the American opinion to end the war in Vietnam. Photographer Edward Adams’ photo uses a few techniques to direct the viewer’s eyes. The leading line of the general’s arm directs the eyes to the gun, and then the head of the Vietcong prison being shot. Overall, the photo quality is not very eye catching due to a low contrast. Lighting in the image is high, which allows the viewer to clearly see what the subjects are. Adams incorporates the rule of thirds by splitting the picture into two halves. On left side is the South Vietnamese general, and the right is the prisoner. Although the general’s arm is in the middle of the image, the main subject is on the right where the gun and prisoner is located. Through the placement of each subject, the rule of thirds is followed fairly closely.

The background of the picture is that the Vietcong man on the right was a prisoner. On the left is a South Vietnamese general, who was walking by and decided to shoot him in the head. The photographer, Edward Adams, was in Vietnam to take pictures of the war for the Associated Press. When the general came next to the prisoner, Adams quickly took the picture without knowing what he had taken. It was not until a few days later that his picture was seen in the U.S. and resulted in a large amount of anti-war support.


1 Comment

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One response to “Pulitzer Prize Photo

  1. Amy Hendrick

    Great analysis of the image composition David. I’m wondering if you listened to the interview with Adams that was linked in the Blackboard document. In the interview Adams explains that he feels like the Viet Cong lieutenant deserved to die.

    His recollection of the event brings up issues of context and truth in photography. I’d be interested to hear what you think.

    Professor Hendrick

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