On Thursday, Nov. 3, the Newseum welcomed Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers Robert Jackson, Nick Ut, Smiley Pool and Carol Guzy as it commemorated the reopening of its Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery. The photographers spoke about their work capturing some of history’s most iconic moments and pivotal events — the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby (Robert Jackson), children fleeing a napalm bombing during the Vietnam War (Nick Ut), the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (Smiley Pool) and the destruction left by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti (Carol Guzy).
As the photographers recounted their memories of shooting these powerful photographs, the audience’s rapt silence was broken occasionally by gasps or laughs. Jackson spoke of riding in the presidential motorcade when President Kennedy was assassinated, and looking up to see Oswald’s rifle being withdrawn from a 6th-floor window in the city’s Book Depository. Ut described pouring water over the wounds of Kim, the girl in his famous “Napalm Girl” photograph. Pool explained an aerial photographer’s difficult task of finding the small details in a landscape that tell the best story. Guzy talked about her efforts to capture moments of hope amid chaos and disaster, summing up the central quality to every impactful photograph: empathy. “If you don’t have empathy it doesn’t matter how good your photographs are,” she said.
The event was moderated by Newseum producer Frank Bond.