Horst Faas, the photographer whose images defined the Vietnam War, dies aged 79


Rob Williams
Friday 11 May 2012 15:05 BST

Horst Faas, a prize-winning combat photographer who changed the way photojournalists covered conflict, has died aged 79.

Born in Berlin, Faas joined The Associated Press in 1956 and made his name as chief photographer for South Asia based in Saigon.

He held the position from 1962 to 1974 - and was responsible for some of the most memorable and shocking pictures from the Vietnam war.

He won two Pulitzer Prizes for his work as well as organising the Associated Press presence in the South Asia region.

As well as covering the fighting, during his time in Saigon he also recruited new talent from among the foreign and Vietnamese freelancers, resulting in the so-called 'Horst's Army' of young photojournalists.

Among his top proteges was Huynh Thanh My, an actor turned photographer who in 1965 became one of four AP staffers and one of two South Vietnamese among more than 70 journalists killed in the 15-year war.

Faas took thousands of images of the Vietnam war and famously pressed controversial photographs on an often reluctant American press and public.

Striking, and now famous photographs such as the small girl running down a road attempting to escape a US napalm bomb, and an image of a man being executed by a Vietnamese officer were produced by Faas's office and were central to raising American awareness of the war and fostering anti-war sentiment.

In 1976, Faas relocated to London as AP's senior photo editor for Europe, until he retired from the news agency in 2004.

The late New York Times correspondent, David Halberstam - who shared a Saigon villa with Faas, once said of him, “I don’t think anyone stayed longer, took more risks or showed greater devotion to his work and his colleagues. I think of him as nothing less than a genius.”

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