Huỳnh Công “Nick” Ut
[Photographer, b. 1951, rural Mekong Delta, province of Long An, Vietnam, lives in Los Angeles.]
When we moved closer to the village we saw the first people running. I thought ‘Oh my God’ when I suddenly saw a woman with her left leg badly burned by napalm. Then came a woman carrying a baby, who died, then another woman carrying a small child with its skin coming off. When I took a picture of them I heard a child screaming and saw that young girl who had pulled off all her burning clothes. She yelled to her brother on her left. Just before the napalm was dropped soldiers had yelled to the children to run but there wasn’t enough time. (On his photograph of nine-year-old Kim Phuc fleeing the village of Trang Bang, Vietnam after it was napalm bombed in 1972.)
One day, there were Buddhist monks burning themselves in Saigon. My boss said, “Nicky, do you want to go take a picture?” I thought, “I’m not a photographer,” but he said, “Go shoot something!” So I shot some pictures. The next day, my picture was on the front page.
I’m a lucky guy… That picture gave me respect and allowed me to keep doing my job. (On his photograph of nine-year-old Kim Phuc fleeing the village of Trang Bang, Vietnam after it was napalm bombed in 1972.)
Nick see her skin coming off and stopped [taking photographs]. I didn’t want her to die too. (On stopping photography in order to take napalmed child Kim Phuc to the hospital after her village of Trang Bang, Vietnam was bombed in 1972.)
...forty years ago, combat photographers carried many heavy cameras, almost like a hundred rolls of film. Negative, black and white, slide film, all in a big bag. Today, it’s easier. You just carry two cameras and a laptop. You can send pictures right away. So easy.