[Photojournalist, b. 1933, Berlin, Germany, d. 2012, Munich, Germany.]
I think the best war photos I have taken have always been made when a battle was actually taking place—when people were confused and scared and courageous and stupid and showed all these things. When you look at people right at the very moment of truth, everything is quite human. You take a picture at this moment with all the mistakes in it, with everything that might be confusing to the reader, but that’s the right combat photo.
I think we have another Pulitzer here. (On his his first viewing of Nick Ut’s photograph of Kim Phuc fleeing the village of Trang Bang, Vietnam after it was napalm bombed in 1972.)
To get the best picture of a captured prisoner, you have to get him just as he is captured. The expression he wears then is lost forever... The human mechanism is remarkably recuperative. A half hour later, the expressions are gone, the faces have changed. The mother with the dead baby in her arms does not look griefstruck anymore, no matter what she feels.
I try to express with the camera what the story is, to get to the heart of the story with picture. In battle I look at things first in terms of people, second in terms of strategies or casualties... To tell a story, you don’t photograph one hundred dead civilians to prove there were one hundred dead civilians. You photograph one dead civilian with an expression on his face that says, “This is what it’s like if you’re a dead civilian in Vietnam.”