An Unlikely Weapon- The Eddie Adams Story

- - Photographers

Pictures are very important because people believe photographs, and the picture can be a lie, but that person will look at that and it’s real, it becomes a real thing, people might say the written word, bullshit, the picture is what does it.

— Eddie Adams from An Unlikely Weapon.

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There Are 19 Comments On This Article.

  1. One of the highlights of my very young career was having a conversation with Mr. Adams on his back porch on ‘The Farm’, during my time at the Eddie Adams Workshop. Truly inspiring.

    I wonder though if his words are still true in this digital age. Do people still believe the photograph? The public realizes how easy it is to manipulate an image. Several photographers have been caught altering ‘reality’ of images. I think it would be safe to say that a considerable sector of the public might believe that such alterations are commonplace.

  2. anonymous

    Videos like these make me remember why I’d rather look at a photographer’s work than hear him speak. Photographers (or artists for that matter) rarely have anything intelligent to say about their work.

    Also, as much as I like photography, what is “it” exactly that the picture does? It may be more entertaining than the written word but other than that I don’t know what it does better.

      • anonymous

        @A Photo Editor,
        I agree that it’s a better form of communication for a news outlet since people’s attention spans are short and it’s easier to reach them on an emotional level using a visual medium. That’s what I meant with entertainment.

        Still a photograph in journalism hardly ever says anything without the written word that accompanies it. I’m not saying one’s more important than the other but I think that “bullshit” comment is a bit narrow minded.

        • Darrell Eager

          often it takes a strong image to make you stop to read the the written word.

        • Michael Zajakowski

          @anonymous, are you serious? What utter snobbery. Besides dissing all photographers (and artists for that matter) and degrading photojournalism as entertainment (“people’s attention spans are short and it’s easier to reach them on an emotional level using a visual medium. That’s what I meant with entertainment.”), you say that it’s ok for news outlets and people (not you, of course) with short attention spans. In other words, the common people.

          Let’s see, Cheever and Updike are both dead, so I assume it’s you, JD Salinger? Welcome back.

          A photograph can speak volumes on both intellectual and emotional levels, and has a visceral impact that words seldom achieve. Everyone who sees it remembers this photograph, but can they (you?) quote any story attached to it? Photographs can have an economy of message and extraordinary visual impact that can, like Adams’ “Saigon Execution,” crystallize feelings that a nation or world is experiencing, and in this case change the course of the world.

          As far as short attention spans go (where was I now?), one of America’s greatest writers, Abraham Lincoln, understood the power of brevity in writing and the power of photography. The Gettysburg Address is 269 words, and Lincoln sat for Mathew Brady numerous times. If only he had WordPress, who knows what he might have accomplished!

      • matthew pace

        @A Photo Editor,

        just to add…the written word needs to be translated into a multitude of languages to be understood, images don’t,they are universal.

        They cross timelines.Before written words, were images,on cave walls and rocks.While many ancient writings are lost in translation,their images continue communicating with us.

  3. @anonymous.

    I know this one photographer, and he shares in your belief that artists in general should shut up. He takes pictures of gadgets and flowers. I’m not in any way implying that those who take pictures of such aren’t decent photographers.. It’s that he so desperately wants to be a recognized as an Artist… but he doesn’t put himself out there.

    that’s all

    • anonymous


      I actually don’t think that artists in general should shut up, I’m just sometimes disappointed by what they say.

      I’m not trying to knock Eddie Adams but after I watched that video I thought to myself “So you went to all these places, met all these people and took all these extraordinary pictures and that’s what you have to say?”

  4. john mcd.

    Some photographers are very engaging and articulate speakers. Have you ever listened to Jay Maisel or David Burnett or Greg Heisler? Some are less so. Eddie’s pictures tended to speak for themselves. The man himself could be terse, and prickly, as well as very funny. He was a 100% no-bullshit one-of-a-kind, a special human being who expected a lot from his colleagues and wasn’t shy about letting them know it. He gave back at least as much as he got.

  5. two things
    1) I’m surprised it took THIS long to use that Spoon song for something photography related.
    2) Don McCullin is an AWESOME speaker. I saw him at the Barbicon Gallery in LND. He told a chilling story about the Albino Biafrian boy who kept haunting him in the darkroom when ever he printed that shot. He said he could feel the boy touching his arm.

    As to the “anon” comment. Guys. He’s a troll. Leave it. We know what up.