Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Things have a way of balancing out...

Today started out pretty poorly and didn't seem to get much better.

Around 9:00 am, I left my ATM card in the ATM machine at the airport in Danang and didn't realize it until I got to Hanoi. Then I set out on our afternoon photo shoot with what turned out to be, not one, but two near dead batteries; one in each camera. After about 6 shots I was out of juice and my two cameras became "dead weight"....bummer.

But as you might have guessed by the title of this post, things got better, a whole lot better......

While walking around Hoan Kiem lake near Hanoi's old quarter, I looked up and saw someone that I immediately recognized. It was Nick Ut, an Associated Press photographer from Los Angeles. His Vietnamese name is Huỳnh Công Út  and he is best known not by his name or his face but rather by his Pulitzer Prize-winning picture of Phan Thị Kim Phúc, a burned and naked 9-year-old girl running toward the camera to flee a South Vietnamese napalm attack on the Trang Bang village during the Vietnam War. The picture became know as "the Napalm girl" and it is an image with such impact that many believe that it changed the course of history.
Photo by Nick Ut
I approached Nick, introduced myself and we started talking. In a few moments many of my tour participants arrived, so I introduced Nic to them and explained who he was. What an amazing opportunity, to be in Hanoi and run into Nick Ut, especilly having just come from Saigon and a visit to the Requiem photo exhibit at the war museum! What a tremendous thrill it was to meet the man behind the photograph.
Photo by John Rickaby
What started out as a bad day will be a day that I remember forever...a brush with photojournalism history... a hand shake, a short conversation and a photo with a legend....Nick Ut....wow....that's all I can say....WOW!
 Photo by John Birgiolas


Ayn said...

Wow, you do get to meet the most amazing people - and always serendipitously. As a young girl I remember seeing this picture of Nic in a LIFE book that my aunt had. The image has always crystalised man's inhumanity for in my mind for me.

Delphine said...

Hi there
Just want to say I enjoy reading your blog and your travel stories.
I heard about on rangefinder I think.
Loving your images. Cheers from New Zealand.

Karl Grobl said...

Hi Ayn, it's great to hear from you...we were just talking about you at dinner, remembering the India trip. Wish you were here in Vietnam too! Take care, Karl

Karl Grobl said...

Thanks Delphine, I appreciate your kind words!

Rob Oresteen said...

Hi Karl!

Too bad about your card - hope you got it back...very cool about meeting Nick Ut...I had a similar moment in Naperville last year...'having hard time remembering the chap's name..oh well, it will come to me.

I did get to meet Marc Hauser and hang at his studio a few weeks back...what a thrill that was seeing 40" prints up close and personal from a living master.

If you make it back to Chicago this summer, let me buy you a beer.

Take care,


ruthdeb said...

WOW Karl, that is AMAZING! You're racking up quite a series of photos with famous/historical people on your recent trips. You are not kidding that the famous PJs hang out in that corner of the world. Hope you get your ATM card back. Nothing's ever easy, is it..

Ayn said...

Hi Karl
Wish I was there too - see the Rickaby's are there too - please say hi!
Hope you do Vietnam again next year, I will definitely sign up!

Take care


Caryn said...

Wow, Karl. What an opportunity! I so remember that haunting image by Nick Ut and it's amazing you got to meet him and spend some time with such a legend Very, very cool, my friend - worth losing your ATM card, eh?

Safe travels!