Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 9th 2015 Contents neck, took a few practice shots with
the iPhone. As he headed north from
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon,
the scenery revealed the ways Highway
1 has changed since the war. Today s
roadside attractions include a restaurant
called Sushi World and a roadside ven-
dor hawking a small-scale Statue of
Then, as the van crossed a bridge,
he announced arrival at the site of the
famous image: "Right here! Right here!"
He pressed the phone against the
windshield to photograph the road,
then followed up with an image of the
temple where Kim Phuc and her family
took refuge before the bombing.
Ut has made this journey often---
usually at least once a year in recent
years, he says. It remains significant to
him. He and the picture and, by exten-
sion, the village, are forever linked.
In Trang Bang, Ut visited a roadside
stall operated by two of Kim Phuc s
cousins, then walked a kilometre down
the road to where he made the famous
image. There, he faced a gaggle of pho-
tographers as traffic changed lanes to
The scene that unfolded was a curi-
ous one: Ut taking pictures, Ut taking
pictures of his own pictures, people
taking pictures of Ut taking pictures.
By the time it wrapped up, it was
unclear whether more images were
taken by Nick Ut or of him.
Ut ended up posting six images of
Trang Bang on Instagram, including
one of Ho Van Bon, 54, Kim Phuc s
cousin and the boy to her left in the
1972 photo. Today, sitting at the road-
side stall, he says instantaneous photo
sharing can be a potent force when bad
"It s much better for the world now
for these social networks to have instant
attention for something," he said
through a translator. "It makes the
world a better place."
It wouldn t just be Ut uploading,
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He stands in the northbound lane
of Vietnam s Highway 1, traffic
swirling around him, horns honking.
He is pointing. Right there, he says---
that s where it happened. That s where
the screaming children appeared.
That s where I made the picture that
the world couldn t forget.
Huynh Cong "Nick" Ut was 21 on
that day more than half a lifetime ago
when he stood on the same road, point-
ed his camera northeast and captured
one of history s most famous images---
a naked Vietnamese girl screaming and
fleeing after South Vietnamese planes
looking for Viet Cong insurgents
attacked with napalm from the air.
On Monday, 43 years later to the day,
Ut went back to document some of his
Vietnam War memories with a tool
from an entirely different era---a four-
ounce iPhone 5 equipped with the abil-
ity to send photos to the world in the
blink of a digital eye.
"I stood here and watched the bombs
come down," Ut said of those long-
ago moments just before he exposed a
frame of Kodak Tri-X black-and-white
film that carried the likeness of nine-
year-old Kim Phuc, her body severely
"I was so young then," the longtime
Associated Press photographer said.
Ut s June 8, 1972, image of Kim Phuc,
now known as the "napalm girl," helped
crystallise the debate America had been
having for more than half a decade
about a far-off war that was lethal to
so many. But the image began its per-
suasive work on newspaper pages many
hours later, not in the instantaneous
fashion we see today.
So when Ut returned to the village
of Trang Bang on Monday, he came
equipped with something more era-
appropriate---he brought his iPhone
with him and was given custody of AP
Images Instagram account for the day.
That gave him the power to upload,
instantaneously, images that during the
war would have taken hours to get 25
miles south to AP offices in Saigon,
then in and out of the film-developing
process before a print could be beamed
to the world.
Sitting in a van bound for Trang
Bang, Ut, a digital Leica around his
'Napalm girl' photographer returns with Instagram
though. His photo, as
powerful as it is, would
have had competition for
the eyeballs of the world.
"Imagine what it
would have been like in
1972 if you had all the
technology and systems
of 2015," says David
Campbell, a visual sto-
rytelling expert and
teacher in Newcastle,
"Some of those people
escaping that napalm
attack would have had
their own smartphones.
Some of the soldiers
would have had smart-
phones," Campbell says.
"In 1972, you got to see
a very curated, edited
selection of images that
were much more isolated
pieces of time. Now you
would see greater scope,
greater time scale and a
much more comprehen-
Ut, whose AP photog-
rapher brother Huynh
Thanh My was killed in
the Vietnam War in 1965,
suspects the conflict
would have played very
differently for people
back in the United
States---and their policy-
photo sharing had existed
then. He says that before
he even got his film back
to Saigon, "it would have
been on Facebook."
"My God. Today in
Vietnam everybody has
a phone," Ut says. "A
couple hours, that was
too long. Now two min-
utes you get it to the
world. I couldn t have
Pulitzer winning photographer Nick Ut
talks with media at the place where he
took his iconic 'Napalm girl' photo 43
years ago on Monday in Trang Bang.
In this photo taken on June 8, 1972 by Huynh Cong "Nick" Ut, South Vietnamese forces follow behind terrified
children, including nine-year-old Kim Phuc, centre, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial
napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places. AP PHOTOS
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