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Nick Ut retiring
Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 12:59 PM on 07.14.16
->> Many of you may know his name while most/all of you know his famous picture of the little Vietnamese girl running down the road naked after her village was napalmed back in the '70s. After 51 years -- yes, 51 -- with AP the Pulitzer winner and good friend of mine is retiring from the wire service next March (2017). He has already turned in his old camera gear, keeping the new stuff to use in the meantime. The clothing/vest he wore and camera he used to make the epic picture is in a glass case as part of the Vietnam section of the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

To know Nick is to love him even though his still broken English can be confusing at times. With that, I would like to share a story about him to show how people's backgrounds can have a different context compared to what we consider the norm.

I met Nick when I first hooked up with AP back in 1977. That year or the next he came back from a mundane press conference at the Los Angeles mayor's office saying "good protest photos, you look." The photo editor told him to process the film later because he needed to go to do a celebrity interview portrait. Nick, getting a little riled, said no to the Hollywood shoot pressing for his film to be looked at immediately again saying "good protest photos, you look now." The editor prevailed and Nick left for the celeb shindig cursing the editor's name and AP's in English and Vietnamese as he stormed out the door. I remember the loud verbal episode very clearly as I stood there taking it all in. It was the first time I saw Nick lose his temper and it made quite an impression.

Upon his return the editor asked Nick what he had photographed at City Hall because while he was away a story emerged of people rioting outside on the sidewalk using protest signs to hit each other. Police were called in to break it up and make arrests. Nick processed his protest film and there were his great images of people beating the heck out of each other. He was right in the middle of it.

After transmitting his pictures I helped print the editor asked Nick why he didn't say he shot a riot instead of a protest. Nick's reply was simple based on what his life was like in Vietnam. Nick told him what he shot was a protest. To him, a riot involved guns and tanks.

That was the day all of us in the Los Angeles bureau learned an important lesson in that we must look deeper than the surface and consider the points of view of others because what we may perceive as being one thing could mean something entirely different to another -- especially with Nick.
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Thread Title: Nick Ut retiring
Thread Started By: Doug Pizac
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