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Monday, 05 April 2010


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It would be interesting to see BOTH photos together.

And presumably this is the photo:

(first on the google search, many other links of course).

I find it strange that I can only remember ever seeing Beers' image, and never Jackson's.

So where's the other picture? Where can we see it?

A story in defence of DSLRs with video? Nobody would've missed the moment, and the Pulitzer would have been divided. Is the age of the decisive moment coming to an end...?

Got a link to the one that was too early? The article doesn't show either of them!

Having a few technical problems...stay tuned....


If they offered a Pulitzer Prize for self-pity, perhaps Beers would stand a better chance. Of course it's only natural he would have felt disappointed, even anger, at the turn of events , but to let it affect the rest of his career, the rest of his LIFE, is simply ridiculous.

I have first hand experience in this regard. I was part of a four-person photo staff that was nominated for, but did not win, the 1998 Pulizer for spot news photography (it was rightfully awarded to Martha Rial of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). It took me all of 10 minutes to get over the disappointment.

That's all it should have taken Beers.

Frankly, I think Beers' picture captured the most horrible moment.

"What we call luck is simply pluck, and doing things over and over. Courage and will, perserverance and skill--these are the 4 leaves of luck's clover"

However, while plenty plucky, it does seem Mr. Beers was a bit unlucky.

Is this the photo?


I strongly feel that Beers' photo is more compelling in many ways..it clearly shows the moment in stealth and has a definite dynamic to it.

look at Ruby's legs in his surge. I love that you can clearly see the lunge and the gun and nobody's seen what's unfolding yet. I know why the other pic got glommed onto but I think beers' image is a more interesting shot in every way.

I think Beers should have spent some time speaking with athletes who won a silver medal at the Olympics. Or with people maimed in an accident.

BTW I do think Beers took a good photo - how Ruby got in so close before anyone reacted.

Agree with others above. I prefer Beer's photo. I think it has an incredible tension, precisely because it was taken "a moment before the decisive moment". It is also a perfect composition.

I think it is the better photo of the two and wonder which one would win today.

The news reel of the shooting:


I cannot help myself: I also prefer Beer's photo. Not only is it technically better, it also makes the mind work a lot more. You cannot escape trying to imagine what will happen. The other picture feels almost voyeuristic in comparison.


'A story in defense of DSLRs ?'

Yes, certainly. But also a story showing how experienced photographers can get the maximum out of difficult to use cameras. Experience plus sheer luck. DSLRs would have dramatically increased the probability to get a useable picture, but they would not have guaranteed their owners to take these pictures. The decisive moment could very well have been missed.

'A story in defence of DSLRs with video?'

Certainly not. Ruby's move was so quick that everyone was taken by surprise, even the two photographers didn't realize what happened. They pressed the shutter by instinct. So how could a photographer with a DSLR with video first understand what happens, then switch his gear to video mode, then frame, and finally start filming ? Why should he be filming anyway, as he would certainly miss the Pulitzer prize for still pictures ? And if he prefers video over stills, why doesn't he come along with a dedicated video camera in the first place ?

They're both great photos. I vividly remember watching this live on TV on that Sunday morning, and it went down so fast I can't believe anyone was able to shoot one still photo, let alone two photographers. And Beers was shooting with a Mamiyaflex---I have my dad's M'flex, and it takes some time to roll the film forward after exposing a frame. For a breaking news situation, it would effectively be a one-shot camera.

Dear Folks,

Wow, that article made me *think*.

First thought-- side-by-side, for me, the choice was a no-brainer. The Jackson photo was so clearly superior. It was the obvious choice.

Which, comparing my reaction to that of several of the other posters, shows that such a choice is never truly obvious. No matter how compelling it may personally seem.

Second thought-- I may lack the sensibilities that come with the experience of being a real photojournalist. Much as I loved it on the college newspaper (and truly did think it would become my career), I've never lived the real thing. That said, Beers' reaction surprised me; I'm reasonably sure I'd not have reacted that way. I've always thought a Pulitzer was some melange of talent and luck in pre-event-unknown proportions. The right place and the right time with the right story and the right photographer. And the only one you can be entirely sure is in your hands is the last.

Am I wrong in that sense of it? I know we have several other pros besides Chuck in the arena. What are their feelings about the nature of winning a Pulitzer? Out of professional courtesy I could entirely understand them not wanting to talk about Beers in the specific; I'm asking about the general cultural feeling around the prize itself.

I feel bad for Beers-- not that he lost out, but that the event happened and substantially ruined his joy in his career. Better he'd not have been there.

Third thought-- for those who haven't done this kind of photography... it's HARD. It's entirely possible I'd have taken the same split second as Beers, because it's the one where there's an open field. You can see every player clearly. Such moments are fractional and fleeting; in Jackson's photo, the field's already in collapse and past the ideal moment, compositionally. He just squeezed in. When you get an open field, you don't wait. Not if you want to be sure you get something useable.

Fourth thought-- Composition is such an important thing. I looked at the un/lesser-cropped photo and my eye was immediately drawn to an entirely different crop -- wide and thin. Go for the full width, crop the bottom just above the car fender, maybe even above the left-figure's hand. Crop the top down two a brick or so above that figure's hat. Burn-in like mad to keep the remaining bits of the right foreground fuzzy figure from distracting. Run it full width. A panorama of the moment in both space and time, because of different levels of awareness and reaction.

Or, for tighter focus of attention, crop the left figure out of the pano. But still leave all the rest of the others. Much better picture, to my mind.

But... would it win a Pulitzer?

pax / Ctein
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

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