Magical moments


If your are told that there is a woman sitting on the ground hugging the gravestone of her husband who died in Vietnam, it is very likely that you have the same photograph in mind as most other Americans. Sometimes pictures are more powerful than words. When we read newspaper headlines we usually don’t remember what they said. But there are photographs you can glance at years later and you can tell the story that’s behind them. Pictures tell stories about fear and happiness, death and life, war and peace. A great photograph has a life of its own.

The goal of every photojournalist is to capture a magical moment, a second in history, and to move people with the story this picture can tell. None of the most famous photographs have been planed; all of those situations just occurred when the photographer was there, ready to take the picture of his life. Every year the best breaking-news photos win the Pulitzer Prize, the most prestigious prize in journalism.

Capture the Moment, a current exhibit at the Minnesota History Center, features award-winning photographs from the past 60 years. It is the most comprehensive exhibition of Pulitzer Prize–winning photographs ever shown in the United States. On large prints, one meets familiar faces like Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy. Scenes full of joy make you smile and laugh. But there are also moving pictures that make you cry, like the well-known photograph of the naked girl who runs down a road in Vietnam, her clothes burned from her body by napalm. We find out that some of the people shown on those pictures survived; others died.

Signs also tell the second story, the one behind the picture. How did each photographer make the picture that won this award? What did he have to go through to capture this moment of history? What happened before and after this photo was taken? Why did he take that picture and why didn’t he try to interfere?

The exhibit runs through January 15, 2006. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and college students, and $4 for children ages 6 to 17. For more information call 651-296-6126.

Related Links:
“Capture the Moment”:
“Photojournalism at the Star Tribune”: