10 Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photographs

A picture is worth a thousand words and it can provoke thought and convey emotion by skillfully telling stories about people in front of and behind the camera. Sometimes they describe events that were moving, uplifting, or even surprising and shocking. Pulitzer Prize Award-winning photographs often have a trend to catch the attention of viewers for their critical and challenging content as well as exciting different reactions.

Many great photographers each year send their work for the Pulitzer Prize, which reveals and celebrates exceptional achievements in American journalism.

1978 “Three Photographs From Guerrilla Areas In Rhodesia”

Three Photographs From Guerrilla Areas In Rhodesia

The series of photos by J. Ross Baughman portraying the atrocities carried out by Rhodesian Security Forces on prisoners got their authenticity and details questioned. As the debates went on, Baughman carried on his career and has lectured about journalistic ethics and methods at various universities and educational establishments.

1968 “Kiss Of Life”

1968 "Kiss Of Life"

This photo had a quite dramatic background as the photographer, Rocco Morabito, was driving as he spotted an electrician hanging upside down on his safety belt struck by 4,160 volts of electricity. He called an ambulance and in the meantime, another lineman climbed up and successfully rescued his colleague by performing mouth-to-mouth, and, well, Morabito was there to snap the shot of the scene winning the spot news prize.


1963 “Aid From The Padre”

1963 "Aid From The Padre"

The jurors admired the way drama, impact, and composition coexisted in this image taken by Hector Rondon. It is an image showing a wounded soldier pulling himself up to the priest. Rondon himself wasn’t sure how he managed to take the picture as the setting was quite rough: bullets flying around as it was taken during a rebellion of marines at a naval base close to Caracas, Venezuela that the photographer found out about.

1954 “Rescue On Pit River Bridge”

1954 "Rescue On Pit River Bridge"

The first woman and the second amateur photographer to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Photography award, Virginia Schau, took a dramatic image on her Kodak Brownie camera that had only two exposures left on the roll. As she was taking her parents out for a day of fishing, they witnessed a truck accident that left the cab dangling 40 ft from Pit River Bridge. One of the people who helped to save the drivers was actually her husband.

1976 “Fire Escape Collapse”

1976 "Fire Escape Collapse"

This Pulitzer Prize for photography winner by Stanley Forman immortalized the moment of a 19-year-old and her two-year-old goddaughter falling from the fire escape of a burning apartment in Boston that actually led to the adoption of new fire escape laws in the US. The little girl survived the fall as she landed on the godmother, who died hours later from multiple injuries.

1949 “Babe Ruth Bows Out”

1949 "Babe Ruth Bows Out"

The first picture in the sports field was taken during the final baseball game of George Herman Erhardt (AKA “Babe Ruth”). Although he was one of many photographers present that day, where Nathaniel Fein succeeded the most was taking a photo that really captured the moment of Ruth wearing the number 3 shirt and using his baseball bat as a cane while the whole stadium cheered. Ruth passed away two months after the photo was taken.

1980 “Firing Squad In Iran”

1980 "Firing Squad In Iran"

Firstly, the prize was given to this photo anonymously in order to protect its author. It shows 11 Kurdish men being shot by Islamic supporters of Ayatollah Khomeni. Iran authorities pushed the newspaper to reveal the name, but the editorial staff refused. In 2016, with his permission, it was revealed that it was Jahangir Razmi who was behind the camera.

1947 “Death Leap From Blazing Hotel”

1947 "Death Leap From Blazing Hotel"

This picture of a fire incident killing 119 people in Winecoff Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia was taken by a 24-year-old graduate student from Georgia Tech. He took the gut-wrenching photo using a Speed Graphic and his last flashbulb. He ended up running an x-ray equipment business, although Associated Press offered him a job.

1970 “Campus Guns”

1970 "Campus Guns"

Steve Starr captured an epitome of student revolt against the general status quo on the campus of Cornell University, NY. It shows armed students leaving the building they had just taken over and held for 36 hours.


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