John Paul Filo
[Photographer, b. 1948, Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania, lives in New York.]
I didn’t react visually. This girl came up and knelt over the body and let out a God-awful scream that made me click the camera. (On photographing Mary Vecchio with slain student Jeffery Miller during the shootings of students at Kent State, April, 1970.)
If you look at most photography, especially the pictures that grab you, they are not objective at all. Sometimes gut wrenching and sometimes lovely, but the moment someone decides to release the shutter, it is an editorial statement.
When I put the camera back to my eye, I noticed a particular guardsman pointing at me. I said, “I’ll get a picture of this,” and his rifle went off. And almost simultaneously, as his rifle went off, a halo of dust came off a sculpture next to me, and the bullet lodged in a tree. I dropped my camera in the realization that it was live ammunition. I don’t know what gave me the combination of innocence and stupidity... but I never took cover. (On photographing the shootings of students at Kent State, April, 1970.)