Visual Literacy

Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery

Posted on: September 27, 2009

"Human Torch"  Greg Marinovich

"Human Torch" Greg Marinovich

I didn’t think that I would have such strong reactions to the Pulitzer photo gallery; there were times when I had to remind myself that I was around other people because I would’ve cried had I been alone. The flaming body draws the viewer to the picture. Like “Saigon Execution”, the  photographer uses the arm of the figure on the left to lead the viewer’s eye to the rest of the photo. Our eyes generally move from left to right when taking in images, which allows the story behind the photo to slowly unfold and piece itself together. In addition, the rule of thirds is implemented in both cases. The two figures in “Saigon Execution” take up the first and third portions of the photo, while the space in between makes up the middle. In this photo, each figure takes up its own “third”, with their expressions and mannerisms Of course, both photos also depict war, and how human lives can be ended with almost regimented ease. The most apparent difference is the use of color. The photographer uses vibrant colors and contrast between mannerisms and facial expressions to help evoke mood. By using color, the photographer seems to illustrate the reality of war; the hatred and conflict between the two groups results in a gruesome death. The figure on the right doesn’t even turn to look at the boy who is being killed, indicating that this scene is nothing new to him. The figure on the left is grimacing as he plunges the machete into the boy’s skull. He shows no remorse or hesitation in his actions. Finally, the boy in the middle is crouched down, trying to escape the unimaginable pain in the final moments before his death.

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1 Response to "Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery"

I, too, was deeply impacted by the Pulitzer photo gallery. There were definitely many times when I was on the verge of tears. I agree with your comparisons of this image with “Saigon Execution.” One additional thing I noticed about the use of color in this image was how the bright colors of the flames stand out against the rest of the image, especially the darkness of the clothes of the boy engulfed in the flames. This helps draw the viewer’s eye to the boy. I think this is an amazing use of color in an image; certain images, like “Saigon Execution,” work better in black and white because the color only distracts the viewer. In this, the color enhances the impact of the image.

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