Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Pulitzer and World Press Photos of the Year, continued: 1986



Between 1942 and 1967 a Pulitzer Prize for Photography was awarded for photojournalism, that is, for photographs telling a news story. In 1968 that award was replaced by awards in two new categories:
  • the Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography (photography in the nature of breaking news, as it has been called since 2000); and
  • the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography (human interest and matters associated with new items).
From 1955 World Press Photo has awarded prizes for the best photographs in 10 categories, with an overall award for the image that "... is not only the photojournalistic encapsulation of the year, but represents an issue, situation or event of great journalistic importance, and does so in a way that demonstrates an outstanding level of visual perception and creativity".


Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography, 1986:

Carol Guzy and Michel duCille, Miami Herald, for their photographs of the devastation caused by the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Colombia.

From Wikipedia:
The Armero tragedy was one of the major consequences of the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz stratovolcano in Tolima, Colombia, on November 13, 1985. After 69 years of dormancy, the volcano's eruption caught nearby towns unaware, even though the government had received warnings from multiple volcanological organizations to evacuate the area after the detection of volcanic activity two months earlier.

As pyroclastic flows erupted from the volcano's crater, they melted the mountain's glaciers, sending four enormous lahars (volcanically induced mudslides, landslides, and debris flows) down its slopes at 50 kilometers per hour (30 miles per hour). The lahars picked up speed in gullies and coursed into the six major rivers at the base of the volcano; they engulfed the town of Armero, killing more than 20,000 of its almost 29,000 inhabitants. Casualties in other towns, particularly Chinchiná, brought the overall death toll to 23,000. Footage and photographs of Omayra Sánchez, a young victim of the tragedy, were published around the world. Other photographs of the lahars and the impact of the disaster captured attention worldwide and led to controversy over the degree to which the Colombian government was responsible for the disaster. A banner at a mass funeral in Ibagué read, "The volcano didn't kill 22,000 people. The government killed them."

The relief efforts were hindered by the composition of the mud, which made it nearly impossible to move through without becoming stuck.
Carol Guzy and Michel duCille's photos documented the devastation caused by the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano, giving them the Pulitzer Prize in Spot News Photography in 1986.

Two rescue helicopters pull survivors of the mudslide to safer ground.

A man carries another away from the wreckage left in the aftermath of the massive mudslide that struck Armero.

More than 20,000 people were killed in the mudslide after an eruption of the volcano Nevada del Ruiz, which covered the town of Armero Columbia. Although rescuers tried to aid survivors, the devastating tragedy claimed most of the town, which later became a cemetery of sacred ground.


Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography, 1986:

Tom Gralish, The Philadelphia Inquirer, "for his series of photographs of Philadelphia's homeless."

Photographer Tom Gralish won a Pulitzer Prize for feature photographer for his April 7, 1985, photo essay on Philadelphia street people. Gralish spent four winter weeks on the streets of Center City photographing homeless men, with such nicknames as Spoon, Redbeard and Hammerman, for a photo story that appeared in The Inquirer Magazine. His subjects were the people who live on the street by choice, refusing to go to city-provided shelters


World Press Photograph of the Year, 1986:

Frank Fournier for his photograph of Omayra Sánchez, a victim of the Armero volcanic disaster, who died after being trapped in a mud hole for 60 hours.

From Wikipedia:
Omayra Sánchez Garzón was a Colombian girl killed in Armero, department of Tolima, by the 1985 eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano when she was 13 years old. Volcanic debris mixed with ice to form massive lahars (volcanically induced mudslides, landslides, and debris flows) that rushed into the river valleys below the mountain, killing nearly 23,000 people and destroying Armero and 13 other villages.

After a lahar demolished her home, Sánchez became pinned beneath the debris of her house, where she remained trapped in water for three days. Her plight was documented as she descended from calmness into agony. Her courage and dignity touched journalists and relief workers, who put great efforts into comforting her. After 60 hours of struggling, she died, likely as a result of either gangrene or hypothermia. Her death highlighted the failure of officials to respond correctly to the threat of the volcano, contrasted with the efforts of volunteer rescue workers to reach and treat trapped victims, despite inadequate supplies and equipment.

A photograph of Sánchez taken by the photojournalist Frank Fournier shortly before she died was published in news outlets around the world. It was later designated the World Press Photo of the Year for 1986. Sánchez has remained a lasting figure in popular culture, remembered through music, literature, and commemorative articles.
The photograph raised again the controversy over news photographers recording private and anguished moments.

At the time the now famous photograph was taken, the world was already fixated on the tragedy. Omayra was one of the victims at the centre of the associated controversy over responsibility for the disaster. Almost immediately after its release, the image captured widespread attention. According to an unnamed BBC author, "many were appalled at witnessing so intimately what transpired to be the last few hours of Omayra's life".

The image also attracted controversy after it appeared in Paris Match. The public began to accuse Fournier of being "a vulture", to which he responded by stating, "I felt the story was important for me to report and I was happier that there was some reaction; it would have been worse if people had not cared about it." He added, "I believe the photo helped raise money from around the world in aid and helped highlight the irresponsibility and lack of courage of the country's leaders." The picture later went on to win the World Press Photo of the Year for 1985.

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