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September 18, 2013

Have You Ever Seen the Uncropped Version of the “Napalm Girl?”

(Click for larger size)

I imagine that many of you, good students of photojournalism, are familiar with the uncropped version of Nick Ut’s “Napalm Girl.” In Googling it, I can see it gets mentioned from time to time. Still, I’d never seen it before this week. (It’s also a curious image to discover with all the thematically disparate photos of the Syrian crisis circuiting now.)

I have to think this is one of the most significant crops of all time. With the right half of the photo suddenly claiming more storytelling weight, it’s stunning how much it competes, diluting that dramatic scene burned into all of our heads. Studying the “new” cluster of figures and the body language of the soldiers at the edge and across the road, the guys look like it’s Miller time. Even more incredible, however, is the specter of the soldier attending to his camera. Given that he’s almost parallel to the burning body of Phan Thi Kim Phuc, the message is that he’s got some time right now, that there’s nothing going on right that moment that’s worth capturing, or even deserving of his notice. …Just wow.

So my question is: was this photo cropped entirely for effect? for simplicity sake? or, because the nonchalance of the soldiers, in juxtaposition with the scorching of the children, would — from a compassion standpoint — have been like a second napalm hit?

Photo: Nick Ut / AP via

  • Cult of Ut

    If I’m not misinformed that’s not a soldier on the right attending to his camera, it’s David Burnett loading his camera and therefore missing the picture.

    • Alexander Petricca

      I believe you are correct, plenty of image on the net if people want to know more.

  • AlanSChin

    See our own David Burnett’s recollections of the scene at:

    There is also motion picture news footage.

    That’s not a “soldier attending to his camera” — that’s reloading. As someone to whom this has happened, running out of film in a camera, among other amusing occasions: during a firefight in Afghanistan and when the south tower of the World Trade Center exploded, I can attest that it is rather frustrating. And yes, even with 400 or more images per flash card, it still happens in the digital age. Because your last frame is your last frame, whether there were 35 before it on a roll of film or 399 on a flash card.

    As for the nonchalance, real or perceived, well, I don’t think that’s fair to compare it to another napalm hit. Baghdad residents continued to be stuck in traffic jams while firefights were still continuing during the invasion in 2003. I thought, uh, shouldn’t all you people stay home for a while, and let us professionals have some decent driving conditions; I mean, what fun is a war if you’re still stuck in traffic, etc…

    But whether you are inured to war, innocent of its real meaning, or simply trying to stock up on essentials for your family, you might therefore have “better” things to think about than other people’s suffering. The reactions of participants and direct witnesses is very different than that of the more distant audience reading the paper or clicking online.

  • bystander

    Thanks Cult of Ut and Alan Chin… I vaguely remembered that there was a story behind the individual in the right of the frame, but didn’t recall it.

    I dunno, Michael. That’s the thing about photographs that become iconic and separated from any back story, one can draw conclusions from them – or, inferences – but it’s tricky. It’s not that the camera lies or distorts, but it can “lose” things that were never part of its medium to begin with. Whatever gaps the viewer “sees,” the viewer is tempted to construct a narrative to fill those gaps.

    As I think about it, I wonder if there is an iconic photograph anywhere – that’s ever been taken – that isn’t at risk for an off kilter “interpretation” absent any other source of information.

  • Michael Shaw

    Great to know that’s Burnett. Still, the manner of the soldiers as related to the plight of the children is noteworthy. And it’s the reading of the more distant audience that ultimately codifies the value and meaning of the photo. The fact that David was involved in a mechanical activity when this act of suffering riveted the nation, and the fact he’s wearing a helmet which makes him look like the other soldiers, is not at all inconsequential.

    • AlanSChin

      Correspondents and photographers accredited to the US military wore uniforms in WW II, Korea, Vietnam, and as late as the First Gulf War. This was standard practice. Today, we wear civilian clothes with helmets and body armor, though not necessarily (usually not) the same ones as the soldiers. If captured, journalists are supposed to be treated as officers (captains, I believe) according to the Geneva Convention. What a lovely notion…

    • KevinBarrington


  • Bob Black

    the ITN film coverage is here…i think i first saw it in either Hearts and Minds or Year of the Pig……anyway…..the young girl’s name is Phan Thi Kim Phuc…and she now lives just north of Toronto… guys should have included, btw, her name…im surprised, given this is Bagnews……anyway…here is part of the film ITN shot of that day…

    • Michael Shaw

      Bob: Thanks for the video link. Phan Thi Kim Phuc’s name, by the way, is in the second paragraph.

  • Janis Edwards

    As I am sure you know, Nick Ut also was criticized for complacency (or excess ambition) as this girl ran towards him. First, his job was to capture the scene; second, he did take her to the hospital (as we now know) and formed a lasting bond with her later in their lives. So, although I have forgotten the stories of the other soldiers, I believe the remarks about the dangers of contextual reimagination are at work here. The motion picture version, which I do recall, is actually somewhat less dramatic. I had recorded a wonderful Canadian documentary about this photo about 20 years ago and accidentally taped over it (I didn’t know about the little tab on casettes that prevents that).

  • Scarabus

    Had to laugh – ironically, not “ha ha.” Responding to your September 13 feature, which really affected me, I wrote an entire post for my own blog and added the link in the comments section on yours. In illustrating the post I included both a cropped version of Nick Ut’s photo, and a couple of screen captures from the video of that incident – the film/video Alan mentions.

    Re the cropping, most photos can be cropped in various ways, right? And for a lot viewers each cropping becomes a single frame from an imagined movie. What might have led up to this moment? What else is happening out of frame at this moment? What will follow this moment, and why? Each imagined imagined answer implies a different “narrative” – and thus meaning.

    My harping on the distinction between accuracy and truth is getting annoying I respect, but I think it’s really important. In respect to Nick Ut’s experience of that moment, the cropped version puts the emphasis on the terrified and in some cases agonizing children. (The girl in the middle, Le Kim Phuc, hasn’t been stripped merely of her clothes but also of the skin and flesh on her back.) To include David Burnett’s walking along, loading his camera, would have told a very different story — equally accurate and equally true … but not necessarily true to Nick Ut’s emotional response, or to the story he wanted to tell.

    And speaking of Ut’s response, a follow-up to Alan’s perceptive comment, based on his first-hand experience: Nick Ut didn’t just “find her, photograph her, and forget her.” For as long as he was able, he continued helping her get the medical treatment she needed — what? 14 or more operations? (Alan probably knows.)

  • BradBell

    Disqus ate my comment when I added the photo. Dang. Maybe you can guess what I said ;-)

    • Michael Shaw

      Try again?

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  • Michael Shaw

    Over on Twitter, David Campbell and Joerg Colberg express doubts that this is the historical crop among crops. I’m certainly willing to accept that, but I’m curious now to know what other crops represent as much historical impact as this one, either for shaping, amplifying or simply avoiding the dilution of meaning?

    • RevRoscoe Beauregard

      as what I see now, contrasts to the original I saw years ago, and as someone mentioned HEARTS and MINDS, a film I saw as well in SF….unforgettable…the focal point was to emphasis the emotion of the young girl.. She is in near center to call forth her.~~~{{ by chance, in my work thru my service related PTSD, came to know the vet, a navy seal who discovered and radio back of a village he found, two days later the village became MAI LAI }} ~~~ I am a Vietnam era vet, my brother in law, as so many of these vets is an AGENT ORANGE VET…a nightmare to this day.. War is only for profit, as many of us have learned, as what is occurring in Libya.. not for emancipation.. someone is out to make the GOD ALMIGHTY $$$$

  • Lisa Hammert

    I believe the Burnett story is true. He said he was reloading an M3 or M4 which can be rather difficult under pressure. Check David Kennerly’s Facebook Post

  • davidburnett

    Well… before this gets totally out of hand, let me try and set things straight a little bit.. not so much about the “crop” and the repercussions it did or didn’t have.. but that the guy on the right changing film is a Vietnamese photographer, probably military, and is definately not me. I was, for the record, still about 100 feet back of Nick when this shot was made, struggling not with an M3 or M4 (easy to load) but with a Leica III … screwmount and no flip up back door to align the film, ergo… tough to load. I wouldnt read too much into the psychology of the crop. For years, cropping was standard practice, going back to the days when cameras were themselves kind of imprecise, so if you shot wide, you had plenty of space to crop down to the elemental bits of the picture. In this case, there was very little discussion about the picture at the time it came out of the dark room other than… “You did good work today, Nick Ut ” from Horst Faas (I was at AP souping my film for the NY TImes that day) … and im sure in looking at the picture, whomever was the editor, either Horst or Carl Robinson, they just did what photo editors had always done: crop the “unnecessary” bits out, and leave the key elements of the picture in tact. Then it went off to be wired at the PTT office.. and the rest, is.. more or less, photographic history. I wrote a blog piece last year on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Trang Bang bombing, and the rather amazing dinner in Toronto that took place to mark it ( At the dinner was Nick Ut (who has remained like an uncle to Kim Phuc these forty years), Chris Wain – the ITN correspondent who poured water over her burns, and later helped to get her moved to a proper burn unit for care in Saigon (and which surely saved her life), Perry Kretz – the former STERN photographer who managed to get her a passport, and flown to Germany for treatment of her scar tissue, in her teen years; a 91 year old French Canadian nurse who had cared for her at the burn unit in Saigon, and perhaps most amazing of all, the Canadian customs officer who, when Kim and her newlywed husband were returning to Cuba from their Moscow honeymoon, helped them ‘defect’ and eventually resettle in Toronto. There is no doubt that little girl, terribly burned during the napalm attack, wouldn’t be alive today if not for that photograph. At the time no one knew who “the girl in the picture” was…. and in finding out who she was, in putting a name on that face, she was given a second chance at life.

    • Michael Shaw

      David, thanks so much for the clarification and the background. (Chin had already convinced me that was you.) I just wanted to make my own clarification, too. I had no intention at all to cause any controversy, discredit the photo in any way or minimize Nick’s deep commitment to Phan Thi Kim Phuc. On the contrary, my point was simply to admire the brilliance and historic impact of the crop. The original frame, now that we see it, certainly steals thunder from that focal scene that came to rock the political sphere.

      I’m also glad you mention Horst and Robinson. How often, in all the words spent on photojournalism every year, do we have the opportunity to pay specific homage to the editor? I wonder if you or anyone else knows which of the two deserves ultimate credit? Given the magnitude of the photo, it should be more widely known.

    • Skip Brown

      I knew that wasn’t you on the right, so I’m glad you’re here with the straight stuff…

  • Andrew Nelles

    The mystery photojournalist on the right does have UPI stenciled on his helmet.

  • Brandon

    Haha who says “he’s got time” or “there’s nothing going on”? He’s changing his damn film.

  • Mouseclone

    “…the message is that he’s got some time right now, that there’s nothing going on right that moment that’s worth capturing, or even deserving of his notice. …Just wow. ”

    Really? You do not feel that he might be fighting with his camera to capture images and that he needed to reload the film? Also, there are other screaming children in the image as well. What would one more screaming child mean in the middle of a war and napalm attack?

    I don’t know the back ground to this story, but it doesn’t seem like anyone, the troupes or the other children care to help the naked child. I can’t tell that she even looks burned form the image. Was she taking a bath at the time of the strike? I will never know.

    We didn’t learn that war was awful then or we wouldn’t be engaged in so much of it now.

  • David Warwick

    hey wait a minute isnt that use of chemical weapons on civilians

    • Steven James

      Napalm is an “Incendiary” weapon, not a “chemical” agent and thus a legitimate weapon of war but only when used against enemy military personnel, never civilians.
      Though, the grotesquery of “legitimate weapons” shows the sickness of war itself. I’ve often argued this on the use of dum-dum bullets: military/politicians abhor them because of the Geneva Convention classing them as “inhumane” when every hunter and cop uses them because the give a quicker more assured and thus MORE humane death than the armour piercing bullets that tend to and are DESGINED to primarily cripple victims.
      Not that I’m saying having limbs torn off by dum-dums are “good” either, just the hypocrisy is breath taking and comes from German actions due to jealousy over British Empire’s power when the Conventions were being written (no kidding).

      White phosphorous is also incendiary but does add very serious toxic problems and potentially horrific consequences if it gets in drinking water like wells (t doesn’t burn under water, victim drinks it, reacts with dissolved air and acid in stomach…).
      Thermobaric are NOT “incendiary” weapons, they’re actually high explosives, any poor soul hit by them is crushed, utterly incinerated or even vapourized, but, since some of them use incredibly toxic materials, possibly even depleted uranium (pyrophoric and dirt cheap), they bring the spectre of deadly contamination after use.

      And thank God for the humane actions of those that day saved that poor girl’s life. To be a neutral observer like a journalist in the atrocity that is war must be a really bloody ghastly hell of it’s own kind :(

  • mike brunette

    Hardly a break, photographers used to reload during key moments. 36

  • Gary Knight

    3 years ago I was in Hue with AP correspondent Mort Rosenblum (he covered Vietnam for the AP from Singapore) and Carl Robinson. Carl told me many things about that photograph – amongst them was that he processed the film and another roll or two from a different AP stringer who also photographed Kim Phuc running down the road. He said he showed them to Horst who chose that frame and had it transmitted straight onto the wire bypassing the AP editors so that they wouldn’t censor it for containing frontal nudity. Horst had told me the same story many years before. Tim Page told me Horst had hired Nick because Nick’s brother – a photographer – had been killed working for AP some time before and he (Horst) wanted to make sure someone in the family had an income to support all the dependents. I never asked Horst about that but it sounds very much in character.

    David is right, wire photos were frequently cropped to fit the format of the easel used in the darkroom – leaving a strip at the bottom or edge of the paper to fit the typed caption – and were shot with that in mind. It was very rare to see a full frame image on the wire even in the late 1980s. There was nothing ill intentioned about that. These were also the days before zooms…… A lot of photographic knowledge about the practice of the craft in those days is dying – and assumptions that challenge authenticity and intent are easily made without that knowledge.

    The idea that David would fit into a South Vietnamese soldier’s fatigues and was a around 5ft 6 is pretty funny…… :)

    • Skip Brown

      Got that right…!

    • Michael Shaw

      Gary: Thanks so much for the information about the editors. They are really the unsung heroes of this exercise.

  • Michael Ebert

    ( davidburnett ) Hello Dave Hello everybody, here reported, Michael Ebert of the University of Magdeburg. The photographer on the right is most likely Hoang Van Danh. He worked for UPI. It is also written on his helmet. His photos can now be found at Corbis.

    • Gary Knight

      Thats terrific info Michael……

  • Zachary Tumin

    If you want to see serious editorial cropping for effect, go look at Walker Evans’s
    work for Let Us Now Praise Famous Men … – “an unprecedented demonstration
    of how a major American artist actually worked: what he saw, what he
    recorded, how he altered what he recorded to achieve the image he
    intended” –

  • Theo Frundt

    Of course if David Burnett or a soldier is in the image rewinding a roll the image would become more calm.

  • Just Wow Indeed

    So many things I could say about this blog post. I already vented on a friend who posted the link on Facebook, so I’m not as venomous over the lack of research done by the poster. I am glad to see so many Proffessional Photojournalists including a few there that day have already said much of what I mentioned, like the Photographer reloading his film (rolls of film only have so many frames – imaging shooting a EOS 5D Mark III with only a 2gb SD card). There is a pretty decent book out with the story before, during, and after the frame captured above:

  • Peter Cane

    I wouldn’t call this nonchalance, its often that photos don’t tell the whole truth, as you are yourself pointing out. I think we are seeing exactly the same thing here, a snapped moment in time may look like one thing, but reality, well that’s another.


  • misterwax

    there has been some recent information come out about this photo and the napalm incident….There is information that says the napalm was dropped by the SV Air force on what they thought was a Viet Cong position. The Americans told them to hold off as the VC were mixed in with civilians…just like the Muslims do now…. Well, The SVAF went ahead and disobeyed orders and dropped the napalm..the GIs barely had time to get out of the way…. Collateral damage is evident…

  • grizzled veteran

    “Still, I’d never seen it before this week.”

    Ouch. This image is about as iconic as could be. Any- I mean really, any- student knows this image.

    Wow. I’m continuously amazed at the number of would be pundits, waxing philosophically about photography: “media literacy and the analysis of news images”, while exhibiting unfathomable ignorance of the subject.

    The internet gives a voice to those… who might be better off keeping quiet.

    To paraphrase Ursula Le Guin: “Those of us who cannot speak, or choose not to, have the distinct advantage over the rest of us, in that they never say anything stupid.”

    Read some of the intelligent comments below (by some intelligent folks who have literally dedicated themselves to the subject) and learn something about “media literacy”.

    Maybe better to study a while- before creating a web site dedicated to it.

    • AlanSChin

      I believe Michael means that he never saw the full frame, uncropped image before this week. Not that he never saw the photograph before! That would be well-nigh impossible, although politics and changing culture can do that, note how most Chinese under the age of 25 or 30 have never seen the “tank man” photograph nor understand what it shows, thanks to the Chinese government’s continuing censorship. But that is not the case here with the “napalm girl” image; I would be very interested to know more of how Vietnamese today perceive the photographic documentation of the war there.

      The community of photographers is a relatively small one. David Burnett, who was there; Gary Knight, who added more information above, are both friends and comrades and I think it’s great that they posted on this thread here. Of course they are going to know more about the situation than any writer or critic from afar, including you or I.

  • zzvv
  • kateblue

    I distinctly remember seeing this photo in a spread in Newsweek around 1970, as a child. My father got a regular subscription and I was riveted by it’s photography. This photograph, plus another cover photo of a bloodied protester were burned into my mind at an early age and I think contributed to an sense of tragedy about the human race that at that time I could not really articulate, only feel.

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  • Do Espirito

    Is the larger picture more true? Where is the truth? In the close framing? In the large one? In the movement thaht would have give a film camera. And who can say that the soldiers are nonchalant? They are more accustomed to war than children. And they are seized on a moment that can be different from the next one. The large photo or the close one get the meaning that we, spectator, want…

  • James

    Even in reportage, there is such a thing as good photographic composition. The uncropped photo is simply not as powerful an image. As you said, the extra portion of the uncropped photo “competes, diluting that dramatic scene”. Any good photographer would realise that in most circumstances you don’t want two separate focuses of attention vying for your brain in one image, and certainly not if they’re both basically saying the same thing (in this case, that war is a dehumanising hell). If you have two focuses which play off each other via irony or opposition, fine… but in this case it would be (if you’ll pardon the term) overkill, like a comedian going for pratfalls when subtlety is more appropriate.

  • Harry Page

    In 2006 I was working in Vietnam for my paper The Daily Mirror. The Deputy
    Picture editor John Mead phoned me about a historic photograph that had just
    flashed up on the wire services again. The reason was that photographer Nick Ut who took this iconic war picture was retiring from the AP.
    ‘Could I find the location now to see how much it had changed’? he asked.
    The next day I headed north with a local Vietnamese interpreter. I had taken my laptop with the original photograph with me to try and pinpoint the exact spot.

    It had changed beyond all recognition. When we
    arrived at the spot our presence drew a bit of a crowd and one man told
    me that although the girl in the photograph had became very famous and now
    lived in Canada the other children had been forgotten. He said the two boys
    on the left of the picture were both dead but the girl and boy holding hands
    on the right were brother and sister and still lived in the area. We all
    jumped in the car and he took us to meet Ho Van Bon & Ho Thi Mien. They
    agreed to come back to the original location holding hands recreating the
    1972 photo.

  • Sheila Hoag

    I think, looking at this picture decades later, someone sitting in his (her) living room, has no concept of what was happening, no matter how much they’ve read about it. Neither do I. Unless you’ve been in a war, you are clueless.

  • malicia

    Am I the only one who is furious to see this post to even appear? Why did you even write this piece? For cheap controversy? The un-cropped version was available for everybody to see from day one. It existed in wide distribution for 40 years and nobody ever though it was anything special that a fellow correspondent was cut out. It was just cropped for wire machine to transmit the photo. Also, it is widely known that Nick Ut has helped the girl and has been helping her for decades. There were reports that since the photographer doesn’t have any children he has left his entire body of work to Kim as a legacy when he passes away (which I cannot confirm). Last year there was a 40th anniversary of this picture and an hour long documentary was made detailing the history (Nick brother dying on assignment, Nick picking up journalistic career to honor his brother, how the girl was treated, how she escaped Vietnam to Canada etc). There was also a big gala where everybody involved in the incident were reunited:

    All it takes is five minutes on Google and all your questions would be answered, honestly for so many awards this page gathered, this is on big lame piece to be published. I am sorry for harsh words, but are we now too lazy to switch on Youtube and look up the anniversary documentary?

    • Meg Handler

      I am an editor with BagNews. The mission of BagNews is to analyze and critique new images, past and present. Michael Shaw’s intent here was merely to re-read an iconic image, with the understanding this image has been considered by others. There is no claim that this is “news”, nor is there negative judgement passed on Mr. Ut. We’re all aware of Ut’s continued relationship with Kim Phuc. The point of Michael’s post was to look at the issues surrounding an un-cropped iconic image and how that changes our perception of the event depicted. Just taking notice of the amount of discussion the un-cropped image has generated here, it’s clear there are still valid issues to be considered.

    • duckrabbit

      I’m glad I live in a world where people can question why a photo might be cropped and how people might have read that photo differently if the they had seen the uncropped version.

      ‘Furious’ Malicia I’m sorry you don’t feel the same way.

  • LordoftheKaty .

    Was this Vietnam?

  • Steve Shelton

    If you look closely I believe the photographer’s helmet on the right reads UPI.

  • Wayne Parker

    Who knows what was really going on in those soldiers’ minds? I think the writer had no business projecting his own attitude on those soldiers. Many of them didn’t ask to be sent there, and even those who did saw horrible, unimaginable things in combat. Who can say what it did to their minds? We folks sitting here in our comfortable homes have no business judging combat soldiers.

  • Carla Viera

    how and why this man is acting this way? Why and how men can arrive this point? I think that anyone can be this man, with every thoughts and ways to view the world that we are cultivating, teaching for us, and for our children, i think is that way that so many wars happened, happen and will happen. And also is the reason this man be acting this way.

    I see our children. Fighting for nothing, fighting for the things that we teach to they.


    Como e porque este homem está agindo dessa maneira? Por que e como os homens podem chegar nesse ponto? Eu acho que qualquer um pode ser esse homem, com todos os pensamentos e maneiras de ver o mundo que estamos cultivando, ensinando para nós e para os nossos filhos, eu acho que é dessa forma que tantas guerras aconteceram, acontecem e vão acontecer. E é também a razão deste homem estar agindo desta maneira.

    Eu vejo os nossos filhos. Lutando por nada, lutando pelas coisas que ensinamos a eles.

  • Dharma Springs

    What you don’t see in this image is that someone is already running up to the girl with a canteen, about to pour water on her. If you see the 16mm film image of this same shot (you can see it in “Hearts and Minds”, the documentary that won the Academy Award in the 70s), you will see either a soldier or another photographer run up to her and pour water from his canteen onto her. Yes, the photographer appears to be reloading his camera on the right, and yes, the other soldiers (ARVN?) appear to care less about what’s going on, but what’s going on behind this still image (only revealed in a moving image) may also tell more of the story than we’re seeing even in the un-cropped image. And I suspect, without the crop that allowed us to see full on and without distraction the horror we were creating in Vietnam, this image would not have become the iconic photograph of a young Phan_Thi_Kim_Phuc, only one of the hundreds of thousands of children maimed and/or murdered during this needless war.

  • rickstarr1

    Not for nothing, but the camera “crops” the picture at the moment you push the button. Reducing it further, later, may be more thoughtful, but it is no less arbitrary than where the photographer chooses to point the lens at the moment the shutter clicks. In the picture above, for instance, there is likely more action to the left and the right of the frame, which we might debate endlessly (and pointlessly) forever. Honing in on the most emotional image may happen in the photographer’s hands, or in the editor’s. What is the difference?

  • You Lying Bastards

    AGAIN the media has distorted the truth and downright lying.
    Here’s what happened moments after that photo, the Cameraman surrounded by ALLIES giving her water and washing down her body with the LITTLE available water out of their drink bottles.

    Lying bastard media only out to distort things for a story and all the people that buy into its bullshit.

  • Paul Williams

    I had a whole lecture on this pic in the topic ‘Reporting Asia’ as part of my degree in Journalism and Asian Studies. From memory, the explanation of this pic did not involve nonchalance on the part of the soldiers. It’s a bit ridiculous, in my view, to insinuate indifference on the part of a photographer who is re-loading their camera when taking pics is their reason for being there. The presence of those soldiers around the children is their best insurance against being caught in a follow-up napalm attack.

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  • coleus

    Would it surprise you that this is not the full frame either? The original has yet one more figure, that of a soldier, also attending to some other business. That is, personal business: he’s lighting a cigarette. I saw it in a sociology course about 11 years ago. I have been looking for it recently, to no avail.

  • coleus

    I take that back! I am mistaken about the cigarette. This was in fact the photo I saw… I put it up to middle age and a bad memory! I could have sworn he was lighting a cigarette, which would have been worse. But now that I look at it, this must be the image I saw. Sorry folks!

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  • Bob Black

    :) ….thanks Michael :) …my bad, i didnt catch on first read (weird, i’m getting old! ;) )….and the Nick’s picture is much more powerful and important because of the inclusion of Dave (the original, uncropped frame) as that is the image I’ve always known…becomes a much more ambiguous and questioning image to read, even though the heart of the matter is Phan Thi and Her brother and the devastation rained upon that village and those lives…agree, its ridiculous to crop the image……btw, if you ever get a chance to listen to Phan Thi Kim speak, quite inspiring…and yep, she and nick have remained friends….

  • Michael Shaw

    And so we have the question again, by the way: who is the photographer far right? And is he military or press?

  • AlanSChin

    I never said that the figure on the right is Dave! I may have surmised it, but I wasn’t 100% sure: Dave speaks about a Leica and that photographer is rewinding the film on a Nikon or Nikkormat, it looks like, though I couldn’t be sure, and thought, maybe it IS Dave because of his story at the WaPo that he also repeats here. I mean, what are the chances of TWO other photographers both reloading while Nick Ut makes the iconic frame? But after reading Dave’s reply here, that must be, in fact, what happened.

    And yes, M3 with rapid take up spool isn’t hard to load and M4 is positively easy. A IIIf or IIIg, now that is a real pain! Mr. Burnett, what were you doing with such a camera in 1972? Or did the NYT, then, as now, not pay you enough to get more up-to-date gear? :)

    (I used a M2 — made in the early ’60s — through the war in Kosovo!)

  • Michael Shaw

    Thanks, Bob. It’s also interesting how widely assumed that’s David in the pic.

  • BradBell

    Briefly, I feel the cropped version is compositionally superior by a mile – which is simple and ample reason to crop. Cropping shifts the focus to the children. Their positions leads your eye back down the road to the soldiers, and finally to the reason they are running. I’m not a photo-journalist, so I’m not sure how constrained one is in post-production, but it seems the cropped version is a better representation of an important truth, and the un-cropped version is just not as well framed.

  • paulharrington

    Before or after they shoot you are you treated as an officer?? FYI its supposed to be a field grade rank, Major and above

  • duckrabbit

    There is no such thing as a ‘neutral observer’, especially not a journalist.

    (great comment though!)

  • Rodrigo Ordóñez

    It’s credited on some captions as a South Vietnamese army photographer.

    And here’s an article of David Burnett on that day:

  • AlanSChin

    Shoot me after a last cigarette, please. Merci, mon ami. Vous etes tres gentil.

  • Suzy Soro

    I’ve performed overseas for both the USO and MWR and we were given GS rankings above my Dad’s, who was an Army Colonel. He found that rather galling…

  • Gary Knight

    If you want to contact Carl send me an e-mail and I’ll send his e-mail to you. He has an interesting narrative to that image.

  • Michael Ebert

    Horst Faas told me that he lives in Switzerland. But unfortunately I could not find him there. Maybe we can find him in HCM?

  • grizzle

    “Those of us who cannot speak, or choose not to, have the distinct advantage over the rest of us, in that they never say anything stupid.”

    Word, Alan. I’m quick at times to jump to conclusions- my bad.

    I think I’m still in shock- I was recently asked while working on an Africa story, by a (very talented, but young) video editor: “Is Congo in Africa?”. Seriously.

  • Michael Shaw

    Thanks Alan for a clarification that, frankly, should be self-evident. Without an awareness of the original photo and its deep cultural impact, how would I have been able to draw a comparison?

  • Michael Shaw

    Gary: I was unable to find an email for you. Could you can contact me through the site or the BagNewsNotes Facebook page?

  • Steven James

    “Schrodinger’s Cat” has a conscience and eyes in this case so it is in a defined state…probably one of emotional trauma.
    *said part humorous, part tragic*
    If soldiers used cameras instead of guns, maybe the world would wake up from its nightmare?

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