Spotted At The Space: Nick Ut & Kim Phúc

We had a couple of very special visitors at the Photography Space this past weekend. Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press photographer Nick Ut came to the WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY exhibit along with Kim Phúc, the little girl in his famous Vietnam War photo. The two viewed the photos and the film in the show. Above is a picture from their visit.

Phúc was only nine when the image was taken 41 years ago and now lives in Toronto. She described the event in an interview last year:

"Suddenly I saw fire around me and it burned my clothes. I was very scared and began to cry. I tried to run away from there...I ran and ran until I saw people in front of me. I felt very hot, thirsty and asked for help. They gave me water to drink and wet my body, and I lost consciousness."

Here's archival film footage of the moment when Ut took his photograph.

Spiritual Preparation for War

© Hayne Palmour IV / U-T San Diego

By Hayne Palmour IV

On the morning of March 16, 2003, at Camp Inchon, Kuwait, reporter Darrin Mortenson informed me that he had heard that there was going to be a baptism ceremony for Marines later in the day. That immediately sounded like something I'd want to photograph. With images of baptisms in a slow moving river somewhere in the south coming to mind, I tried to imagine what a Marine baptism in a Middle Eastern desert might look like.

After nearly a month of uncertainly in Kuwait City, Darrin and I finally managed to secure an embed spot with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment from Camp Pendleton. With so much competition for embed positions, that wasn't an easy task for a reporting team from the North County Times, a small to midsize daily newspaper covering north San Diego County. We had just arrived at the battalion's camp and had been reporting on the different things Marines were doing to prepare for the imminent war in Iraq.

These were things such as various types of training, writing letters home, packing away sea bags loaded with items they couldn't carry into battle, receiving their chemical protection garb and their caged pigeons. The purpose of the pigeons, one pigeon per company, was to warn of a chemical attack.

With all this preparation, a baptism ceremony, to get a Marine's spiritual house in order, was not surprising. We made the short walk from the tent we were staying in to where the ceremony was going to take place. There we saw sandbags stacked in the shape of a small jacuzzi. A tarp was stretched over it to shade the pool from the hot sun. A clear plastic sheet to hold water lined the inside of the sandbag structure. Next to the pool were several ten gallon water cans. A Navy chaplain's assistant was emptying the cans one by one until the pool was full. Meanwhile Marines started to arrive from all directions wearing nothing but their issued green shorts, t-shirts, and each carrying a small towel.  Before being dunked in the water by Navy Lt. Commander Tom Webber, some of the Marines would profess that they had strayed from the straight and narrow with their drinking and womanizing, but were resolute on their return to righteousness. After saying a few words, the chaplain would put one hand on the Marine's shaved head, the other on his back, and push the Marine forward until he was completely submerged. With a loud splash, the Marine was brought back to an upright position and was pronounced baptized by the chaplain. A chorus of "Oooohhhraaas!" and applause from those waiting their turn marked each Marine's return to air after being dunked. By the time dozens of Marines had gone through this baptismal process, the water in the pool, which started clean and clear, was murky with desert sand and nearly half gone.

While editing the photos afterward, the image of Webber patting Cpl. Albert Martinez on the head after dunking his body (tattooed with Christian symbols) rose above the rest. I didn't want to risk sending any other photos for that story to the newspaper. This was the shot. Four days later Darrin and I climbed aboard an amphibious assault vehicle filled with Marines and their weapons. Then we, along with the Marines, and the rest of the U.S. & British military forces involved in the invasion, crossed the border into Iraq.

WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath will show at the Annenberg Space for Photography through June 2, 2013. Click here to learn more about Hayne.

Spotted At The Space: Adrienne Alpert

Our friend Adrienne Alpert came by to experience the WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY exhibit with her son Michael. When she's not in the company of her adoring son, Emmy Award-winner Adrienne is in the field and on-air for KABC-TV. We're always happy to see her, whether on-air and in person. Thanks for visiting!

Presenting The 'War/Photography' Video Trailer

Our next exhibit, WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath, debuts next month. The show, organized by The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, will include over 150 images that present both the military and civilian point of view of war. Mark your calendars - WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY opens Saturday, March 23, 2013 Watch the video teaser for the exhibit above.

Carlos Orjuela Visits The Space

By now, Los Angelenos have seen the face of U.S. Marine Gysgt. Carlos “OJ” Orjuela all over the city. Louie Palu's powerful photo of Orjuela was part of our street banner campaign. The latter came in with his son for the final weekend of War/Photography. Read Palu's story behind the photograph here and our interview with Orjuela here.

Learn More About This Photo From WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY

Private First Class Wayne C. Weidner, assumed American, dates not known
Personnel of Battery B, 937th Field Artillery Battalion, US 8th Army, Attached to the IX US Corps, Fire Their Long Toms on Communist Targets in Support of Elements of the 25th US Infantry Division on the West Central Front, Near the Village of Nunema, Korea, 1951

This powerful photo from our upcoming War/Photography exhibit was taken by Private First Class Wayne Weidner during the Korean War. Want to know how the image was photographed? An excerpt from the accompanying 600-page exhibit catalogue, soon to be on sale the day the show opens on March 23, explains:

Another artillery photograph in this section was taken during the Korean War of personnel in Battery B, 937th Field Artillery Battalion, U.S. 8th Army, firing on Communist targets in support of the 25th U.S. Infantry Division near the village of Nunema, Korea (1951). The self-propelled guns seen in this photograph are artillery placed on a motorized chassis capable of rapid maneuver. “Fast-moving forces of armored infantry and tanks needed their artillery to keep pace with the advance,” wrote Jeffrey Hunt. “Weapons of this type could be brought into action very quickly and with devastating consequences for an enemy caught unprepared or above ground. And, as in this picture, the firing of heavy guns, whether on land or aboard ship, is a visually stunning spectacle.” Taken at night, the camera’s lens was held open until both guns had fired, illuminating the scene with explosions and the reflected light from the snow.

Click here to watch a preview of the exhibit.