War Photographer Tyler Hicks Visits Milton
by The Milton Measure on Friday, April 26th, 2013This past Wednesday, Tyler Hicks, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for the New York Times, addressed the entire school. He shared with the community many of his photographs as he described his extensive work photographing conflicts in numerous countries.
A graduate of Boston University with a degree in journalism, Hicks is recognized for his ability to capture powerful images bearing mostly political messages. Most of Hicks’ photographs focus on war and conflict in other nations, but he also documents domestic issues.
Hicks’ job is intense and hands-on. He has traveled to countries such as Libya, Pakistan, and Syria, placing him in the center of many dangerous conflicts. Describing his work in Syria, Hicks recalled daily executions and kidnappings.
While covering the revolution in Libya, Hicks saw his driver, a 21 year old engineering student, executed, and was subsequently taken prisoner for two days, during which time he was tied up and beaten. Hicks said that watching someone working for you get murdered is “not easy on your soul.” Yet despite the danger and the tragedy he has experienced, Hicks refuses to stop his work. At a special Straus Dessert on Monday evening, Hicks remarked that he thought his work was vital to bringing a voice to the voiceless.
Hicks tries to keep his photos simple, as his job is truly to capture the reality of what he witnesses. The simplicity of his photos sheds much needed light on distant battlefields. But despite the great talent he has for photography, Hicks does not consider himself a “natural” or an artist, instead preferring to call it his “trade.”
The risks that Hicks takes in his work have paid off, as he continues to be recognized for his coverage. In 2007, the Missouri School of Journalism awarded the title of Newspaper Photographer of the Year to Hicks. In 2009, he was given the Pulitzer Prize for “masterful, groundbreaking coverage of America’s deepening military and political challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” In 2010, New York University deemed his photographs of war in Iraq and Afghanistan among the “Top Ten Works of Journalism of the Decade.”
Hicks’ devastating experiences shine through in his images. His photographs provide a vantage point ofthe war that goes on outside our borders. War is hard to understand from afar, but according to the critics, Hicks has done a fantastic job of portraying war in a real and tangible way.
Hicks describes his job as a “constant adventure.” During assembly, he said, “documenting these people’s stories is what I do for a living…it gives me a lot of gratification…to get a reaction from people from [my photos].”
Having such a bold photographer who has witnessed many of the most well-known contemporary conflicts has been a great opportunity for the Milton community. His last piece of advice for was to “take chances, take risks, follow exactly what you want to do in life, and travel.”
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