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How Pulitzer Photojournalists Capture Iconic Moments

If you’d like a dose of photography inspiration, spend 8 minutes watching this video. It’s a story that just aired on CBS Sunday Morning titled “Capturing the Moment,” and it looks into whether people can be taught to create a great photograph.

The segment focuses on Eddie Adams Workshop, established three decades ago back in 1988 by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Eddie Adams and his wife, Alyssa. Adams won his Pulitzer in 1969 for his famous photo of a Vietcong prisoner being executed in a Saigon street.

“On some level, you have to have the instincts to understand what it is you’re seeing, because I don’t think everybody understands what they’re seeing,” says Alyssa Adams. “You either see something or you don’t. Can you learn to see? Yes, you can.”

Alyssa Adams in a storage room full of her late husband’s body of work.
A print of Eddie Adams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning photo.

Years after shooting that photo, Eddie and Alyssa created a workshop at their barn in upstate New York. The dream was that it would be a gathering in which top veterans in photojournalism would teach top emerging photographers the craft of shooting noteworthy photos.

30 years later, and the Eddie Adams Workshop has become a prestigious workshop that’s extremely difficult to attend: only 100 students are carefully selected (based purely on the merit of their portfolios) from around the world each year to join the intense 4-day, tuition-free gathering.

For the CBS story, reporter Maurice DuBois visited the workshop and spoke with a number of the Pulitzer Prize-winning instructors (Caroline Cole, John Filo, Carol Guzy and John H. White) about their views and goals.

“It’s not about how great a picture you make, because have nothing to do with it, we’re just the link,” says photojournalist Carol Guzy, who has won a record 4 Pulitzers. “It’s about who’s in the pictures, and that small word ’empathy’, to me, means everything.”

“There’s more to it than clicking,” says Pulitzer-winning photographer John H. White. “They click, we capture life, moments. That’s why it’s important to take pictures with the camera to heart, with the soul, with the mind, with all of one’s being. You’re not taking pictures, life is taking it. I’m just the vehicle.”

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