‘Tank Man’ Photo: The Story Behind the Picture and How Jeff Widener Shot It - Spectrum

Despite covering major stories in over 100 countries, award winning photojournalist Jeff Widener is best known for his iconic photograph of a lone Chinese protester standing in front of a column of tanks during the Tiananmen Square protest in Beijing, China in 1989. The ‘Tank Man’ photo won Widener worldwide acclaim. He was a Pulitzer Finalist and his photo was picked by America Online as one of the top 10 photos of all time. More interesting than the photo, however, is the backstory of how Widener got the photo and his surreptitious way of getting the film back to the Associated Press office in China to distribute the picture worldwide. On this edition of the “Spectrum Podcast,” hear the details from Widener himself…the twists and turns of what he had to do to get this amazing photograph. Also, hear how this famous photojournalist got started taking pictures at age 7 and while in high school won the 1974 Kodak/Scholastic National Photography Scholarship beating out over 8000 competitors. He then worked for several major newspapers until he was, at age 24, named to a position as foreign correspondent photographer for United Press International in Brussels, Belgium. In 1989 he was named the Associated Press Southeast Asia Picture Editor in Bangkok, Thailand. He has covered the Gulf War and ethnic battles in Sri Lanka. Widener also was the first photojournalist to capture and file digital images from the South Pole. Widener currently is a freelance photographer based in Hamburg, Germany. He also presents guest lectures at colleges and universities across the globe. Recently, Widener was a featured speaker at the 2019 Schuneman Symposium on New Media and Photo Journalism in the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University.
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